I made these comments during a memorial service for Anita Moore-Hubbard, who died on July 12.
Good evening. My name is Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, and I had the privilege to know Ms. Anita through Sonja for close to a decade.
I'm honored to be here tonight with my wife Dunreith and on behalf of our son Aidan to stand and express our condolences to Sonja, the rest of the Moore-Hubbard family and to all of us who cared for and whose lives were touched by, this gracious, graceful and powerful woman.
We've been checking in with Sonja and following, with smiles and sadness, the pictures she's been posting on Facebook.
I want to talk for just a minute about one of the images.
It was taken shortly before that moment where Ms. Anita was called to rest after a rich, loving and contributory life.
It's the last picture ever of mother and daughter together.
In it their cheeks are touching.
In fact, they're smooshing up against each other.
They are so close that there is literally no space between them.
And they're smiling.
If you've looked at some of the other pictures Sonja has posted, there is one of Ms. Anita at one of Sonja's many graduations. (I'm going to be honest and say that Sonja has more degrees, credentials and letters after her name than almost anyone I've ever met.)
In that image, Ms. Anita is beaming with pride and joy at her daughter's accomplishments. Their cheeks connect, and Ms. Anita is slightly behind her and to the side, letting Sonja have the moment and glory she has labored so hard to earn.
In the final picture of the ailing mother and the daughter into whom she poured every fiber of her soul, the two women are next to each other and looking directly at the camera.
Ms. Anita's head is covered by a white wrap.
She's still elegant, of course, with a roundish earring resting perfectly on her left shoulder and her glasses framing her face just so. She always had style.
You can tell that her body is weakened, though, and that she very well may have known the end was near.
But her head was high, and in her smile was acceptance and gratitude and love.
Her arm is on Sonja's right shoulder, just as it was when Sonja was a young girl and when she was an impressive scholar about to receive her diploma.
Ms. Anita was giving that last little bit of nurture and security and protection to the daughter she raised, the daughter who in turn she was leaning on and who was giving her that that same ceaseless and tireless and fearless care.
The unconditional kind of do-anything-it-takes care that showed Ms. Anita that her most significant life lessons, lessons that she learned in the South and taught in the North, universal lessons of compassion and character and family and service and education grit and grace and faith had been learned and acted on by the woman to whom she had given life.
I just spent some time thinking about and feeling and admiring the aching beauty contained in that picture, about Ms. Anita's physical frailty and unvanquished light within, about the fatigue and weariness and pain around the rims of Sonja's eyes, yet also the resolve in her smile that shows her commitment to see it through to the end.
I felt the power of that picture in part because my wife went through the same process with her mother just shy of three years ago. I watched with awe as Dunreith did one of the most important and excruciatingly painful things that I believe she will ever have to do.
I have gradually come to feel that being there to see your mother through to the other side, whatever that is in our belief system, to truly be there for the woman who brought us into the world in an unflinching and courageous and indescribably tender way, is both a gift and a privilege, even as it's also heartbreaking.
For Ms. Anita, that end came a little more than a week ago.
We are grateful for her abundant gifts, her courage, her gracious humor, and her gentle strength,
We are also grateful for the life she gave and nurtured to us and to the world in Sonja.
We will miss you, and we know you are still with us through the memories we shared and the daughter you raised and loved so deeply and so totally.
Thank you, Ms. Anita, for all that is encapsulated in that last picture.
May your example inspire us.
May you help us believe that we can conduct ourselves with the same dignity and fortitude and compassion as you did.
May we be as clear-eyed, as nurturing and as cared for when our times come are you were.
We respect you.
We will miss you.
We love you.