She looks good in her American casket, I think, when I pay my respects. It’s luxurious, like an RV. I find myself liking the way its big frame holds her tiny body. She lost so much weight in those last months.

So this is the world without Bobbie. I don’t like the way it feels like the same world. Glen Beck was on the radio when I drove my brother-in-law’s car. The man at the gas station said I looked good, as if he somehow knew that I don’t wear a suit much anymore. I drank a Diet Coke on the way to the viewing.

There is definitely something missing in the Cosmos though. Bobbie’s unique view of the world. The filamented framework of how she understood life, built inch by inch with every breath and heartbeat, is no longer with us. You can’t save a worldview. It’s too much for saving. You can’t even understand it. She was the only one who saw the world through her eyes. And that particular view is no more.

It was the view of a woman born in the 1930s in Texas. She married a Baptist preacher in a day when they had no doubt that their view of life and God was righteous and good. The view of a woman who let her husband shine and loved the reflected glow. The determined look of a woman for whom duty was paramount and individual need a lesser thing, something that cowards or weak people fretted over. Essence first, given by birthright and religion, and then a hard existence, leaning into that essence with every blessed ounce of energy the good Lord gave you. Surety, faith, and fidelity as hard as you could and then death.

I’m telling you, she’s gone. Bobbie is gone. Her wit, her famous memory, her sharp eyes that could spot a deer or an elk before any man could. She’s gone and we really don’t know what we’ve lost. Because every woman is a private world unto herself. She shares what she can of her heart and the rest is mystery.

I keep looking for the ripples her passing must have left in the ether. Not the ripples of grief in her family but something in the world. Something to assure me that we all matter.

We Christians say that she went to be with the only one that can truly know our hearts. To the only presence that can perceive and duly notes the infinitesimal drop in the cosmic barometer that marks the passing of one good woman.

She was going to be with Jesus. That’s exactly what she said.

Gordon Atkinson

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