I am writing to you because I thought I would see you again. In fact, I took it for granted that we would know each other for years to come. Now that you have died, the unannounced finality of your departure has driven home what we all need to be reminded of: the last time you see someone could truly be the last time – ever. I don’t even remember what the subject matter of our last words was. I was almost certainly teasing you about something because I do remember you laughed and threw my soccer ball at me. Then you walked away, with your trademark strut and a playful wink over your shoulder.
I am writing to you because I never told you how much I loved your mischievous sense of humour. You were very serious about your work as the CBD’s Gender Officer but you retained that quality of character that wins instant admiration from me: the ability to laugh at yourself and not take yourself too seriously. The crap that you took from John Fry and I!!! And you were not only such a great sport about it – you enjoyed it and dished it back with relish.
I am writing to you because I never told you how much I appreciated how non-judgmental you were. Despite your deepest convictions and beliefs, you were the epitome of tolerance and I never once heard you belittle or demean anyone for who they are or what they believe in. You genuinely cared about people, always with a friendly arm around the shoulder and a kind word.
I am writing to you because I never told you what a great Mom you were. I only spent time with your boys on a few occasions but I could see, the way you raised them, that there is nothing stopping them from becoming great men. I never told you how proud you should be for that.
And so I regret not having told you until now – now when I realize how much I will miss you.
I will miss your mid-Atlantic accent. I will miss your wildly exotic flowing West African outfits and, of course, I will miss your famously coy Marie-smile that could easily melt the hardest of hearts.
I went to ICAO yesterday to collect a letter not long after we were told you had died. I realized you were the last one to use my ICAO security pass over the SBSSTA meetings. The card shook in my hand.
I will always think of you when I listen to Empire State of Mind – all the times we sang and danced to it with our friends and I’m so happy you are returning home to New York to lie in peace next to your mother.
I am writing to tell you I will be in New York on Sunday morning to say goodbye one last time, dear Marie.