Last Thursday, late at night, Bill Skei passed away, yet another of the original members of St. Barts who has gone through that secret gate. He had his family and friends with him. The Sunday before, he was at church; he read one of the readings, he sang as best he could with deteriorating lungs the favorite hymns. He was always in the choir and this was one thing that I noticed him missing, along with the general freedom of being healthy, able to move freely, strong and skilled with his hands for performing repairs of the Church building.
Sunday, because it was the day before the third anniversary of Penny's own passing, I had contributed for the altar flowers. As Episcopalians do, we followed a form where, after a general communal prayer of worship, thanksgiving, and confession, we give more specific petitions. In the one where we pray for mercy for those who have died, I'm not sure at what point we stop remembering a given individual, but this week the list was, Joyce Bosworth (organist for 30+ years who died on Dec. 30th), Bill Skei, two other names I didn't register, because then Sandy Sepe read "Penny Hutchison" and I wasn't expecting it at all and it was like getting a simultaneous blow to my head, heart, and gut. (We had run out of service bulletins, so I couldn't read ahead.)
After the service was over, Evelyn Skei (Bill's widow) was in the entry foyer (the old Nave) outside the Fellowship hall (used to be the Sanctuary when the church was first built) and she saw me, I had to give her a hug because she suddenly looked so sad, and I lost my ability to use human speech. She said something about us sharing a Sunday.
I'm wondering if this anniversary will become my new Lent... something that is different in indescribable ways every time, and subtly devastating each time through.
Bill's funeral is Wednesday, and Joyce's Thursday. I can't make Joyce's ... will make Bill's, God willing.
I wrote most of this up yesterday, but didn't get around to pushing the button until almost 4am on Tuesday; I set the date to the time of day when I found her.