People all over the world (quite literally) have been mourning the loss of a wonderful young woman since last Wednesday. I hardly got to know her, but she was the wife of a dear friend of Mike's. I had always taken it for granted that sometime soon we'd make it to Boston to visit her and her husband, and I would finally have the chance to talk to her outside the realm of some official event like a graduation or wedding. Instead, we went to Boston on Sunday for her wake and funeral.
A few people asked me today about the funeral, and I couldn't help but smile and tell them how beautiful it was, which just sums up exactly who this woman Sonia was. I am not exaggerating because of any sentimentality: I have never witnessed such an incredible showing of love and togetherness, and such a huge impact coming from the life of one human being. The church was overflowing, and someone estimated that there were about 600 people in attendance, including 4 bishops and probably 50 clergymen. I learned too late that Sonia started an Orthodox preschool at the age of 21, something I would have loved to talk to her about. It has been in the back of my mind for several years now that someday it would be wonderful to start a parochial school, but I always thought "I will get my Masters first" or "no one would take me seriously until I am older". I was so humbled to find out that Sonia accomplished this feat years ago. And in so many other ways, the story of her life inspired me, and I believe will continue to inspire me. As heartbreaking as it was for the throngs of people to say goodbye to her, I don't think that one person could have left that service without thinking about how they could try to live up to the kind of person that Sonia was, or without the comfort of knowing that she is now enjoying something more beautiful than any of us can imagine.
There are many indications that Sonia knew that her time here would soon be up, and I, as well as many others, were bowled over by the implications of this- I keep thinking that she just really had an ear for God's voice, and probably understood things in a way that many of us only wish we could. Originally I had begun this post with my own complaining and petty cares, and it was nice, and appropriate, to go back and cut all of it out without a second thought. Sonia's life really has affected me in a profound way, and probably will for a long time to come. Talk about gaining some perspective.