Today is a big day…
I’m attempting a feat never attempted by myself or any other child of my mother’s…
I’m making Nana’s Chex Mix. It’s a holiday tradition of my family and it is tasty.Tasty.TASTY! To put it in perspective, once in college, I ate a whole tin of the stuff on the ride back to the dorm from Clinton during finals. Some of you have tasted the glory that is this secret recipe Chex Mix…some of you have not…but today, after a particularly hard week for myself and those dear to me, I decided to give it a go.
Death is hard for everyone, but it is particularly hard when it takes you by complete surprise. This week, one of my most valued mentors and trusted friends took her own life. The celebration of her life yesterday and the number of people in attendance was evidence that she didn’t just touch my life, but many, many lives.
The beautiful Lorna Norwood was truly a person of genius. I don’t think she ever did really recognize it in herself, and didn’t really like to have it pointed out to her, but she was. She was tactful, courteous, thoughtful and caring in every respect of those words. I could not have been luckier to have started my career sharing an office with her. It is, truthfully, because of her, that I’m on the path I am. By just being near her, I learned so much: the importance of doing it right, not fast; how to tactfully tell a young intern her outfit was (while adorable) not appropriate for work; that I shouldn’t rush to marry someone young, but take time to get to know myself and the person I wanted to be before I became a part of someone else; to always follow my gut and do what I feel is right; to develop a network of people I can trust and nurture those relationships. Her lessons to me spanned all aspects of life and she supported me in every career and personal move I’ve ever made. I credit her, and the people I know because of her, for what I’ve done thus far.
She once told me (after another candidate got chosen for a job over me) that “It’s ok. You would’ve been great at that, but this must mean something else is going to happen for you. Something better is going to come along.” She was so right. While I was disappointed at the time, something better did come along and it was her words that gave me the patience to see what it was going to be.
Lorna attended my college graduation, my Master’s graduation and my wedding. At each, she made sure to get a photo of us. At my wedding, she stood outside in the rain battling for precious space under the small awning to stay dry so she could get a picture with me before I got entrenched in the masses of friends and family. She wanted to make sure I knew she was there and how happy she was for me.
Tidying up my desk this last week, I stumbled across a card she sent me after she started her new job at UT. It said, “Always do what you believe is right and don’t let the habits of others influence you. If it ever gets too tough, or you don’t know what to do, call me. I will always be here for you.” Those words truly epitomize the essence of her. Sage, she sure was.
I was so shocked at the news of all of this when I heard it, and the shock still hasn’t subsided. It just doesn’t seem real that someone with such a broad reach, so respected by her peers, and with so many friends and family to support her would choose to leave the world this way. I wish she had been able to find the strength in herself we all know she had. I am hurt and confused by her decision, but I truly hope she has found some peace and was watching us all yesterday as we remembered all the good times. To read more about Lorna, read her obituaries here and here.
So today, to warm my heart and our home after this long, hard week…I’m making Nana’s Chex Mix.