“But since it falls unto my lot
That I should rise and you should not
I’ll gently rise and I’ll softly call
Good night and joy be with you all”
– “The Parting Glass”
It shouldn’t have worked. No vegetarian civil rights lawyer from Maryland’s metropolitan core should have found himself matched with a daughter of the rural Shenandoah Valley.
We met on St. Patrick’s Day 2013 in Frederick. I spent that morning out there at a traditional St. Patrick’s Day breakfast thrown by good folks as their major annual celebration – showing up awkwardly as the only one in a suit. That evening we met on our first date at an Irish bar and restaurant – of course it was packed crowded. I knew I liked her, but it was hard to follow how she talked between the crowds and the big difference between my funny accent and hers.
And then it worked.
She stayed with me during some of the most difficult days of my life later that year, when a sensible woman would have gotten out. We had five and a half years together.
I have known many people who can command a courtroom, a jury – who have command presence. In my best days on the clock, I come close to this. But in my personal life I have known only three who could light up a room, who had such a knack for making people feel so good just being around them. I don’t have this gift, especially not with other adults.
You are the worse for having not known her. She raised a wonderful daughter to adulthood, without a supportive partner. She climbed her way up, through diligence and focus, in a very male-dominated field run out of New York by New York for New York. Her generosity was legendary both at work and among her friends. She was so brave – and hilariously funny.
Not everyone who encounters a major life-threatening illness experiences it as a “battle.” That metaphor is overused, and doesn’t speak to everyone’s experience in the same way. But for her, it was a battle, and she fought like hell for 30 months. When our time comes, may we all fight past the fear with the same courage.
You have the right to hope that, when it is your time, you will get from those you love a parting glass. And that you may give one to your loved one departing. We have no right to presume this, however.