An Elegant LadyI had a call from my old Bishop on Sunday evening, he called to tell me that Sister Williams had passed away. Sister Williams was in her 70's, a beautiful, elegant Maori sister from New Zealand. She was a classy lady, sharp and very active.
She'd had two liver transplants in her life and it was cancer that finally took her life. I met her 20 years ago when I first moved to the Sydney and I'd been in her Ward on and off over the years. I'd been her Home Teacher and then when I was ordained a High Priest, we again met more regularly as she was a single older sister. High Priests have a responsibility over this group of sisters within the ward.
The Opportunity BeingThis means I have a funeral to attend this week. It's been just over two years since I stopped going to Church, I've been once to attend a good friend's daughters baptism. The challenge or opportunity here is that I will see a group of people whom I care about, but have exiled myself from for the past two years albeit facebook updates and the odd email.
At this stage, anyone I really care about knows I'm gay and most probably know I'm in a relationship with a fabulous guy. "Fabulous" being my word, probably not theirs.
Added ComplicationI'm really bad at funerals, by that I mean I could attend a strangers funeral and cry like a baby. I'm shocking. After the phone call on Sunday from my old Bishop, I sent an SMS (text message) and a few facebook updates to mutual friends who are not in Sydney. I thought they'd want to know about Sister Williams.
A friend from Melbourne called, the mother of some friends. She had been friends with Sister Williams for almost 40 years, they knew and loved her and they also love me. When this sister called, I lost it. I balled on the phone like a baby. She had said that just three weeks ago she was talking with Sister Williams and she mentioned me. She said "I wish Derek was still here, I miss him, he was always so kind to me and helpful".
That's what set me off. You see about two months ago a friend contacted me and said Sister Williams was asking after me and that I should call her. Like many of you, meeting up with members of the Church once you've made your "coming out" a reality can be difficult. This was difficult. You can imagine how I felt.
However, the call from my friend in Melbourne and her passing on the comments from Sister Williams meant the world to me.