I was leaving that bittersweet gathering,
thinking it odd to celebrate your parting,
not willing to consider this could be good-bye
because good-bye is never for good,
even this good-bye,
when someone came rushing up to me
holding out a rolled, jute rug…
“Tanja wants you to have this,” she says.
I recognized the woven wall hanging
I’d so often admired,
of the woman with a bird perched on her shoulder.
I smile with the memory of so many lunches in your home
where that woven woman silently witnessed,
the blooming of our friendship
with ingredients I never thought to toss together;
with ideas tossed about with vigor;
of women so honored to be brought together by you.
How delighted I was to be included and accepted
by someone I held in such high esteem.
How I yearned to be like you:
unfooled by foolishness,
unsilenced by jeers,
undaunted by the impossibility of success.
undeterred by the labels:
“She’s difficult, stubborn, obstinate…”
You’d laugh it all off!
Then go on to accomplish the impossible.
You brought us along into your forays against injustice,
Tanja’s Women, with the dove on our shoulders,
marching beside you
carrying your banners,
purple, cyan and magenta
emblazoned with the symbol of peace.
Preparing us for the day we’d need to do it without you.
Now that lady with the dove on her shoulder
watches over me, from my own home.
I feel your gaze in her eyes.
I imagine your laughter,
somehow caught in the weave,
escaping from her woven lips.
Sometimes, I hear that laugh coming from me,
from deep within me,
where you so carefully planted it.
Sometimes I hear it in my sisters.
You taught us well,
To wield words with precision and valor,
To laugh as we soldier on,
Brave and enduring,
We are always, Tanja’s women.