27 February 2012
We tell ourselves we are here because we loved Jude. We are really here because Jude loved us. Whoever Jude loved was her family and family was everything that made life good and worthwhile. So, all of you who loved Jude, and all of you who were loved by Jude, are family.
Everyone in this room has lost a grandmother, a mother, an aunt, a sister, a daughter.
It's hard to lose your grand-mama, especially when you haven't really gotten the chance to know her. Grand-mamas are so important to little boys - they keep them honest, they keep them happy, they teach them love, unconditional love. They teach them that the world existed before they came along, but the world is so much richer now that they are here. All of us have to help keep Jude's story alive for Malachi, so that even though his first-hand memories of Jude fade, his knowledge of her, and his love for her does not. And perhaps more importantly, making sure that her love for him does not fade from this world.
It's hard to lose your mother, especially a mother who loves you as deeply and as truly as Jude loves you. I can tell you Zaviara, that from the moment she knew you were coming, you filled her heart with joy, and her entire being with hope and love. Never doubt that you meant everything to her, that you were her pride, her treasure, her great gift to all of us. We are so lucky that we have you. We love you.
It’s hard to lose your aunt. Aunties can be like a big sister, guiding you, keeping you in line while inspiring you to see yourself as better than you think you are. They love you without reserve. They protect you from the world. They can get you thinking new ideas and doing new things. They can inspire you and stay connected with you during that time in life when you know for certain that all adults are stupid… your aunt is rarely stupid in your eyes, and never far from your heart.
It's hard to lose your sister. Who loves you more than your sister? Who drives you crazier than your sister? Who's got your back more than your sister? Who is more proud of you than your sister? When you are right with your sister, there's nothing that can defeat the two of you. And man, Jude was a powerful sister. All of you, all of Jude's sisters and brothers by blood and by love's choice, you are some of the most fortunate siblings in the world. You get to keep her faith in love alive.
It's hard to lose a daughter. I didn't give birth to Jude, but she was my daughter, and I was her mom... one of them – extended, blended, complicated families are like that. Many of us in this room spent years raising our children together, sharing the responsibility of their care and nurturing. Watching them grow into splendid adults with families of their own. Our children are our legacy, our dreams for the future, but it's more than that. Our children are our truest expression of love and faith and hope for the world and they should not leave this earth before we do. It's not supposed to happen that way. But it has. We've lost our daughter. Our hearts are broken and our souls riven. All we can do at this time is hold out our arms to each other in love and help one another try to heal.
Jude came to Minnesota for a few months last year. I was happy to see her and to get to know her again. I learned anew how amazingly aware of the world she was, how beautifully she saw things, how fully she lived. She brought Zavy and Malachi up to visit for a while, giving us the pleasure of their company, sharing them with us, making them a part of our lives.
I now recognize that brief time as the sublime gift that it was.
Jude never left my presence without giving me her biggest smile and telling me she loved me. I’ve made a promise to myself that, moving forward, I will be sure to say "I love you" to those I care for, as often as possible, in honor of our beautiful Jude.