I’ve never met her. I never shook her hand, and I’ve never heard her voice.
She’ll never know she changed my life.
I don’t remember when I first entered her world. Was I nine? Or seven? I never remember being without her. As I grew, that world did too. She taught me to ride on a unicorn and how love can make a mitochondrion live. How love makes everything live, even Mr. Jenkins. Because of her, I can try to see the Beezee inside the Mrs. O’Keefe, no matter how many of her I meet. She taught me to watch for the might-have-beens and that everything I do, no matter how trivial, matters all the way to the stars. She showed me how the light can heal and how ancient prayers could ward off the dark.
When I reached that place where I could no longer believe in the god of my childhood, she gave me a God I could love, and from her I learned that it was OK to be angry at Him. She made Mary real and showed me how to continue to live after unforgivable hurt; even to forgive that unforgivable hurt.
In a past full of darkness, when I was all replete with very me, she showed me light, like a lighthouse beacon in a hurricane, helping me understand that past the wind and rocks, somewhere, there was hope, like a fixed star or a rock to lie on to watch those stars. How I could empty all myself of self.
I never met her. She might be the most important person I’ll never meet.
Goodbye Madeleine. We’ll miss you.