Wednesday, August 25, 2010
A friend of mine died last week. Judith used to come by our house in Suchitoto and ask how we were and ask for some spare change for food. When we gave her 50 cents, she'd come back with some bananas and an avocado from the market - extras, I hope, as I know she often helped out there with cleaning or unloading. Some days she'd show up with flowers, and I'd worry a little bit about whose flower patch they might have come from. She brought me a huge bunch of beautiful red leaves, happened to bring them on the first day of my retreat, and they sat on my prayer table all through that time of quiet, filtering the sun.
She looked eccentric in El Salvador terms, wearing a loose man's shirt and pants, while most women of my age - which she must have been - wear dresses or skirts and tops. She kept an eye on us, and probably on pretty much everyone in Suchitoto. I think it's likely that she had trouble with alcohol, and last week, after a brief time in the hospital, she died of liver failure.
I remember Judith as a woman who was "counter, original, spare, strange" - to quote Gerard Manley Hopkins - someone who didn't fit very well into her world, someone who suffered and was kind. I wish I had a photo of her, but this photo of red leaves, like the ones she brought me, will help me to remember. Gracias, Judith.