Funerals are never an easy place to walk in to.
Last Thursday I was devastated to hear Anne Winter had passed away. Well actually, it was Friday morning I heard about it. I entered the auditorium and my friend Antoinette ran to me and gave me a hug. I pulled away and looked at her and asked, “What’s wrong?” “Didn’t you hear?” she replied, with a question. “What?” I asked again. Antoinette told me my friend Max’s mother had died last night.
“That’s a mean joke!” I said to Antoinette. Honest, I really thought she was kidding me. Antoinette has a way of convincing people her fibs are real. But this was matter was very much real. – I swear it still feels like an awful dream. You hear people say that a lot but you don’t really feel numb until you experience something like this.
Another friend of mine told me it was suicide that had taken sweet Anne’s life. Depression is a monster and I feel so terribly sorry for whoever it takes over.
My mom called the school Friday afternoon and sent me an ‘urgent’ message. I called her back, but I already knew what was wrong. I could tell she had been crying when she answered the phone. I whispered into the phone for her to come pick me up. My mom did pick me up later but a group of kids, including me, who had grown up with Max were called into the counselor’s office first.
After my moods had been hitting such a high it felt like my mood had suddenly hit a low. Fast. – I cannot remember my eyes feeling so swelled up from crying, ever.
Anne was such a beautiful person inside and out. She was some of the most light I had ever seen. Really, I didn’t know Anne that well but I knew her well enough to see all the good she did for everyone. From organizing school PTA meetings and carnivals, to making new parents feel welcome; owning an independent record store, and helping new musicians get their start (in fact The Get Up Kids played in her record store); and loving everyone, especially her children and Mardi Gras. Anne had a way of making you do things you wouldn’t have normally have done, while at the same time not forcing you. Anne always had some cool activity planned if you came over. She talked to the quiet people and got to know them. Anne was the coolest person and mom you could ever meet.
I didn’t think I would cry at the funeral today because I had done so much crying this past weekend. One of the men to speak said, “Turn to someone in the room and ask them how they got to know Anne Winter.” I turned to a woman next to me and she asked how I knew Anne. I said I have gone to school with Max, and still do (for seven years actually). Though I told her how I really got to know Anne.
One year, I think I was in fifth grade; Anne invited me to a New Year’s Eve party. The party was great. We had all these fantastic games and activities planned out, like playing Chubby Bunny and Meow, to spraying the boys with silly string. The thing is I didn’t know anyone at the party other than my younger brother so I was quiet at sat at their kitchen table alone. Anne came over and sat next to me. She smiled and asked what kind of music I liked. I told her The Plain White T’s. Anne told me she liked that band too. Then she taught my brother and me how to play a card game called Spoons. I kept messing up but she was patient.
In the middle of telling the woman this I started sobbing. People kept trying to comfort me, but I wasn’t trying to make a scene. I mean, if I felt like this then what must Max and Eva (his younger sister) feel like?
I have decided if Anne could be so loving and bring so much light then I should try to be at least half as good as she was. I mean it.