Tracey asked a few questions about us, giving us the chance to let her know how we came to our decision to attend Trinity. I started to speak about my diagnosis and she listened. She asked a few more questions and then said, "I noticed that as you spoke about your condition and diagnosis, you smiled. Why is that?" My response was, "Well, I know that whatever happens in the short- and long-term will be what it is meant to be and no matter what, it will be OK." She smiled and nodded. And then I decided to stop being deep and somehow moved on to the fact that I was a giant Star Wars geek, which delighted her.
I continued attending the 9:00 "Mostly Jazz Mass" every Sunday despite my mobility issues. I moved to the music when I could, gathered for communion around the table on the altar, and smiled during every moment of it. I was happy and I felt loved and cared about. And cared for! Reverend Tracey even introduced me to a fellow parishioner who was also a Multiple Myeloma soldier. There she was, connecting me with the community and I was grateful.
As things happen in typical fashion at our house, Lou was diagnosed with colon cancer in late April. Lou had a rough time dealing with my illness and was now having to deal with his. I remained calm and kept my humour. We went to an "emergency" mid-day mass since one was scheduled on the day of his diagnosis. Lou called Tracey and Reverend Kay Rackley to let them know of the news and we were able to sit with them for a while after mass ended. Tracey used some particularly honest language about the unfairness of life and I appreciated how real she was. It made me know that she was not above us in any way and that she was just one of us, but one of us with a special job.
Lou got through his illness and I continued to address mine. In January of 2016, after my “cancer vacation”, I found myself working for Suburban Temple-Kol Ami as the new administrative assistant. In the loveliest of coincidences, the Very Reverend Tracey Lind was scheduled as the guest speaker at the Kol Nashim Women's Shabbat, a service I attended on the Friday before I started work. She took a moment before she delivered her sermon and introduced me to the congregation as "the bravest, and happiest person I know." Now that was an introduction!
Flash forward to November of the same year... Tracey announced that she was suffering from a degenerative frontal lobe condition and would be retiring from Trinity. It struck a massive blow to the congregation because we would be losing her leadership and the amazing things that she taught us--taught me in the time that I knew her. I experienced her dedication to social justice, her commitment to reducing gun violence, her willingness to tackle the difficult things as she led us into battle by providing us with an example of what it means to be a true Christian. She told us that we must use our heads as much as our hearts, but that we are to love all and to not judge, for we all come from different experiences and we must do all that we can to understand one another and not put up walls to separate ourselves from each other.
Tracey Lind is probably the bravest person I've ever met. And probably one of the smartest, too, which is why I find this brain condition particularly cruel when I think about it. But no, we don't stop because she stops. We keep going and we take her teachings and her ability to love and we put these things into practice every day because what she taught us is good and true and it is, I believe, as God wants us to be. And this is why I feel so honoured to have known her and to have made that impression on her. It makes me feel stronger than I thought I could be and that's a mighty good thing.