Thirteen years ago today I lost my precious 20-year-old Goddaughter, Mary Allison Callaway. She was on her way from our house here in Memphis to Indianola, Mississippi, where she was going to celebrate her mother and her grandmother's birthdays. (This photo shows me with Mary Allison at her high school graduation in 1996. We both graduated from Murrah High School in Jackson, Mississippi.)
Yesterday I made the koliva for the memorial prayers which will be prayed today at St. John Orthodox church. While the wheat was boiling in the church kitchen, I sat in the nave and prayed. At one point I thought, "Mary would love all the new iconography that's been done since she was here. I wish she could see it." Then it hit me: She doesn't need the images any more. She can see God and His saints face to face.
And so I imagined her talking with Mary of Egypt, the patron saint we share. And with Sophia and her daughters, Faith, Hope and Love. Yesterday was Sophia's Feast Day, and my Goddaughter, Sophie's Name Day.
Since September 14 was the Feast Day for the Exaltation of the Cross, there was still a small cross in the middle of the nave, with a relic of the true cross in a little box attached to it. As I did prostrations before it yesterday afternoon, I chanted quietly, "Before Thy cross we bow down in worship... and Thy blessed resurrection we glorify."
Being reminded of Mary's death every year on September 18 can be hard. I'm sure it's hardest for her mother, who is celebrating her 60th birthday today. But I'm thankful that we have the Feast of the Cross just 4 days earlier, to remind us of Christ's victory over death.
You can read my previous posts about Mary Allison here:
"Twelve Years Ago Today."
"Glory to God for All Things." (which has an article I did for the church newsletter, and photos from the funeral)
"Memory Eternal: September 18, 1998."
I love you and miss you, Mary.