I didn’t know much about Eulah Clarke, the lovely woman who sat right in front of the pulpit at the St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral every Sunday, without fail.
Her low, comforting voice, crisp diction and love for high church Anglican music told me something about her education, and, I later learned, her career – she had been a third-grade teacher. Of course she had.
Miss Eulah’s favorite hymn was “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” the emotional roller coaster beloved by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She also loved “Amazing Grace.”
She and I shared a birthday, the week before Christmas. She was 93.
And yesterday, a few minutes after we sang some of her favorite hymns in her hospice room, she died, leaving the beautiful and tired shell of her body for something far more glorious.
I can’t stop thinking about Miss Eulah, and how much joy she gave me, even though we never spoke outside of church. Her eyes would light up as I took her hand and leaned in close after every recessional to hear what she thought of our anthem. She would never tell me how she was feeling, only asking how I was.
In recent months, when I saw her moving slowly toward communion each Sunday, I thought often that I should offer to drive her to church, or bring her dinner, or just stop by her home and have a chat.
I never did, to my great regret.
Yet Eulah Clarke is someone I will never forget.
The biggest lesson she taught me?
Being present together can be enough. And being joyful and engaged until the end is really the only choice.
Thank you, Eulah. We will miss you.