I wrote this 15 years ago and now I post it here to honor this dear sister of the heart after hearing of her death. We kept talking about trying to see each other again in person this side of heaven (she lived in Chicago and I in San Diego) but now we will have to wait till the reunion there. I will miss knowing she is just a phone call away but I have been truly blessed to know Irma. Farewell my sister and friend.
A few years ago I was asked to contribute something to help celebrate a good friend’s 60th birthday. This caused me to reflect on our relationship and its importance to me.
I am an only child and in growing up I had lots of acquaintances, but I had no close friend whom I could confide in and my mother and I were not close in that way. My freshman year in high school we moved from the south side of Chicago to the Hyde Park area so that I could attend a better high school. Then my parents got a divorce that year and I felt somewhat adrift. The story recorded in this poem happened then.
Sisters In Heart and Spirit: A Birthday Tribute
I want to honor you today, as my heart and spirit echo,
in thanksgiving for the way you have touched my life.
Providence it seems knew just what was needed
for this fifteen year olds’ languishing self esteem.
On the surface I seemed fine
but, underneath my drummer’s beat
did not fit the expectations of the times.
My probing mind and poet’s heart
did not blend with the more radical soul food of the clime.
So, I came to serve your needs, to baby-sit your kids,
an only child who didn’t kno’ a thing about such things.
You invited me into the bosom and chaos of your hearth;
pacifier in one hand and heart in the other,
letting me serve but more; becoming your sounding board, your friend.
The things I felt, thought, my gifts you affirmed.
Yet also taught me by your life to see beyond the trends;
to value motherhood as a career.
From that very first night our hearts and lives were linked;
times apart never weakening this.
Each contact always reaching straight for the heart;
no small talk needed to find out again who we were.
So, I share the privilege of the many women here
whose lives have been quickened by touching your soul.
Yes, God surely had a plan when he arranged for us to meet,
me at fifteen and you at twenty-five both needing something undefined.
This friendship continues to nurture for our best.
Now, at fifty and sixty, still sisters in spirit and in heart.