This day marks the seventeenth anniversary of losing my fun-loving husband David and dedicated father to Andy and Ben. It was a Thursday much like today with lots of white puffy clouds against a sunny blue sky. The beauty of the spring day faded later around dusk. David suffered a fatal heart-attack on the basketball court while playing with Andy and some other boys after school. Even after all these years, my heart beats to a different rhythm as I rewind the events of that day. It is a challenging day, but time has given us ways to remember all of the goodness that David shared and lives on in each of us. I catch a glimpse of him when Andy and Ben smile. I hear his laughter when his best friend from childhood comes to visit. I feel the strength of his hugs when Ben or Andy give me a tight hug around my shoulders. I see his compassion for others lived out in all of us as we try to help brighten someone’s day. I jump with his sense of joy when his beloved Virginia wins the Final Four. I see his hope and radiance in his grand-daughter’s face as she sees a bird flying in the sky. I feel my heart expand with the warmth of his love when I draw closer to my family, friends, and even strangers on this journey of living life to the fullest! Seventeen years brings understanding to loss and gives me a deeper appreciation for the one and only David Butterworth.
Seventeen years ago, my Mom died of a fatal heart attack. The melancholy that drifts in around the anniversary of her death threatens to overcome me each year. I decided to take a walk around the gardens at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to shake the blues and the dreariness of this winter day. As I rounded the edge of the museum, I was surprised by the peacefulness that swept over me. The 24-foot-tall sculptural head of a girl named Chloe carved by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa summoned my attention. The gray barren branches of the large oak tree behind her stood in stark contrast to her meditational visage, radiant even with closed eyes. Chloe’s powerful pose reminded me of my Mom’s determination to raise her 3 daughters to be strong women. I could always count on her encouraging words whenever life became hard to navigate. She often ended those conversations saying, “Everything will work out, and I’ll be thinking about you. Hold your head up high!” These words have been implanted in my heart, and I often use them to encourage my sons in their own challenges. As I turned to leave, I took this picture that shows the strong presence of the oak tree next to the imposing presence of Plensa’s Chloe. These towering images both represent to me the reassurance of my mother’s words. Her comforting words are as permanent in my mind as the images of oak and marble that spoke to me from that image. Throughout the seasons of our lives, the words of loved ones can anchor us over time and space.