I have been privileged to have been one of Laura’s attendants for the last five years, and to have been present for her final day. Laura had a way of encouraging every person she encountered to find and express their truest voice. So in that spirit I’d like to share a poem I wrote to her:
Near the end, you said you trusted me to be your voice.
Near the end, you said you trusted me with your body.
Years ago you hired me.
Became my boss.
And I was afraid. I was afraid of my own stumbling.
I was afraid of my awkward, clumsy hands with knife and fork as I loaded bites of burrito.
I was afraid that my incompetence or discomfort would show,
I was sure you would fire me.
But you patiently firmly corrected my mistakes.
You asked and required me to learn my own body so that I could safely move yours through space.
You allowed me various windows into your world.
At first just dinner to bedtime.
Then trips to work and theater.
With time I met your family and friends. You introduced me.
I no longer thought I would be fired, but I wondered if you liked me.
Then you wrote me a letter of recommendation. Watching out for me while you and Robin went adventuring to Berkeley.
You called me “thoroughly trustworthy”
And so when we met again I began to hope that we would be friends.
And when you introduced your daughter I fell in love.
I fell in love with your newly forming family.
You discovered my willingness if not eagerness to read aloud.
First books to your daughter
Then one memorable day
Poetry to you
You allowed me to read your fledgling works aloud for flow and cadence
So, on that final day I mused aloud that I wished for a book of poetry
But in hospitals such things are not handy
so we talked of small daily things
Most vividly you described Shannon’s beauty dancing on the beach in California.
Then, in the end, you said you trusted me to be your voice.
You said you trusted me with your body.
And I felt so honored and so loved.