“Most of us go through life not knowing the impact you make on other people’s lives. We throw pebbles in a pond and the ripples go out and you hope they go somewhere, but you never get to see them come back.” — Cathy Walsh, from Dianne Williamson’s column “Rare breed blossoms with love”, 27 August 2006
I saw that Kevin Cullen was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle award for his book on Whitey Bulger, and my immediate reaction was to send Cathy an email. She’s a huge Kevin Cullen fan.
Grief is a funny thing.
It took months before I dropped my daily habit of checking Wormtown Taxi in the morning before heading to work, and even longer before I stopped feeling that frisson when I saw a yellow cab and wondered if Jeff was the driver.
I’m not sure when I’ll stop getting that impulse to send Cathy an email about something that might be of interest to her.
There’s a message from Cathy on my answering machine.
Who knows what it’s about; it’s probably a short message reminding me to pick her up — something I’d normally delete without listening to the end.
A few months ago, twenty or thirty seconds of someone’s voice might have merited pressing “delete” without further thought; now, it’s a message that we saved along with another precious message from ten years ago: my doctor telling me that I was pregnant with my first child.
I can’t bring myself to listen to that message. But I know someday I will.
It always amazes me that the right book can find me at the right time. I’m nearly done with Changes at Fairacre by Miss Read, and the narrator loses a close friend, Dolly Clare:
I seemed to spend all the evening crying, powerless to control my emotions. I did not cry for Dolly, now freed from pain and the indignities of old age. I cried for myself. I should never see or talk to Dolly again, and that, truthfully, was the cause of my tears and my desolation.
Our children were upset when Cathy neared the end, and my husband told them that there are three things you can do for someone you love when they die: pray for them, miss ’em like hell, and continue the good work they do.
We are so blessed to have known Cathy, and are equally blessed that she did so much good work it’s easy to pick one or two to continue in her honor:
Flora in Winter. You’ve got one more day to enjoy the beauty and appreciate the work Team Sprout put into the bathroom floral displays!
Support (and Make) Local Art. This year, take in a gallery show or buy a work at ArtsWorcester’s Art on the Line. Make art for others to enjoy. Volunteer at local arts festivals.
Give blood. Becker College hosts a blood drive once a year to honor Cathy’s mother Carol, who was a professor of nursing. It’s usually held on the first Wednesday of April. I’ll let folks know when the blood drive is scheduled. Please give when you can — drives or no — as there’s always someone out there who needs your blood, platelets, or red cells.
Urban Gardening. There will likely be an update on TBUG activities in a few months. In the meantime, start thinking about what you can do to make your own corner of the city more beautiful!