Gloria Elizabeth Krueger
September 2, 1972 – September 17, 2002
I’ll walk your grave today, friend, and I will laugh, and I will cry. So very grateful for the time I had with you. So very sad that you’re not here.
I can’t believe it’s been ten years.
Ten years today.
Ten years of thinking you could just burst through my front door, any minute, full of life, full of joy.
Ten years of remembering your compassion and your art.
Ten years of missing your clean laundry, piled so high on your bed it touched the sky and forced you, like an ongoing lover’s quarrel, to always sleep on the couch.
Ten years of hearing your whispers on the wind and feeling you beside me while I walk the trail behind my house.
Ten years of wondering at your gift of always making me feel good about myself and privileged to live this life as uniquely me.
Ten years of milestones.
You’re an auntie, Glo! You would’ve LOVED that. And your friends’ kids? They are legion. And beautiful.
I have five now. FIVE KIDS.
Abby’s 14. Not 4 anymore. Not 4 like she was on the night that you died. Not 4 like she was on the night that I curled up with her in my bed and tried to stifle my sobs so I wouldn’t scare her.
Why are you crying, Mama?
Oh, baby girl. Gloria died today.
Is she in Heaven?
She is, baby. I know for sure because she took some of my Heaven with her.
It’s OK, Mama.
I know, baby. I just miss her already.
Ian’s 12, now, and Aden’s 10. You saw their picture that summer before you left, and we went to Guatemala the next spring to bring them home. We named Miss Aden for you, you know. Gloria Aden; my joyful, determined, messy, smiley kid — like you, like you. And she beams every Christmas when we sing Angels We Have Heard on High, belting “GLO (oh oh oh oh) OH (oh oh oh oh) OH (oh oh oh oh) OH RIA! In egg shell sees day OH…” with gusto and terribly off pitch, proud of her name, and comfortable in her skin. So very much like you.
We have twin boys, too, like the baby brothers you adored; oh, how you would’ve laughed your way, thrilled, through that discovery. You’re pregnant? With twins? And they’re boys? YAY!
Five, Gloria. FIVE. Can you believe it? Even a little? Because I still can’t, quite honestly. You would adore them, my wild children; they’re crazy NUTS. And sometimes naked. Like we were the summer night we ran all the way down that mountain, a pack of wild women wearing only running shoes and freedom.
It still makes me smile.
You would’ve turned 40 two weeks ago, Glo. The big 4-0. And you would’ve embraced it, I think, the way you did 30, with eager anticipation, delighted to enter a new era.
We just didn’t know then what kind of new era was coming, did we?
You left us for Heaven on September 17. Ten years ago.
On the hardest days — the days I’m disheartened and I wonder whether I really believe in God or Heaven — you pull me there with you, the strength of your life so vibrant and full that it’s impossible for me to think such a Light can be snuffed. You must be somewhere, Glo. And it must be magnificent. It simply… must.
When I pray — help my unbelief — I hear Gloria whispered softly in my mind. Because the love of Vivid You is often an easier touchstone to find in the dark than a God too big to understand. This, I think, is much of what it means to be Jesus to each other.
I miss you, friend.
I can still hear your laugh.
And I love you.
Oh, friends. I know I’m not alone. If there’s someone you miss and want to honor, please do feel free to leave their name and dates in the comments below. Also? Here is a piece of my heart. You may use it to shore up yours. I think a patchwork quilt of hearts is the only way to make it through, sometimes. Don’t you?