Dear friends,

Last week was the first anniversary of Joe’s death. It was a day I had dreaded for weeks, really since Joseph Henry and I got back from Italy in early January at about the same time that Joe went to the hospital last year.

For the last two months I have been reliving those days leading up to his last breath. As the day drew nearer I knew I wanted to do something to mark it, but had no idea what that might be. I read things in books and online, I talked to people, but none of the suggestions seemed right.

Then early last week I was watering plants when I had this thought, “Go back to the beginning.” Suddenly I knew what I needed to do —  to physically go back to where our relationship began, and from there visit all the important touchstones of our lives together. To borrow a phrase from the Indigo Girls, I needed to revisit “the history of us.”

So at the end of the week I drove to Sewanee, TN. (an hour north of Chattanooga), to the seminary I attended and where Joe taught. My first stop was in front of a professor’s house where 33 years ago there was a reception for incoming students to meet the faculty. I knew of Joe from mutual friends in Nashville. I asked someone if he was there and they pointed across the room.

I still remember that first sight of him, and the first words I said to him, “Charlie Strobel says to tell you hello.” I met all of the faculty and many other students that day. But Joe is the only one I remember.

Next I went to the seminary and sat inside its chapel, remembering my three years there. I learned many things in seminary, but Joe’s classes were the only ones that challenged me. If I had never seen him again after leaving Sewanee I would still say he was the most influential teacher I ever had.

I skipped the next stop in our history, which was in Knoxville. Towards the end of my year there at Church of the Ascension, our long friendship evolved into something more. When a job as associate rector of a church in Chattanooga (where Joe lived) opened up, I immediately applied for it.

My next visit was at that church, St. Timothy’s on Signal Mountain. It was there that Joe and I were first known as a couple; where we got married (at the 11:15 service the Sunday after Christmas); where Joseph Henry was baptized. It is a place of many good memories. From there I stopped in front of the house where Joe and I lived together for nine years, and where we brought newborn Joseph Henry home from the hospital.

Then, finally, it was back to Atlanta. The first stop here was St. Joseph’s Hospital, where Joe spent the last two months of his life, and where he breathed his last. Then to St. Dunstan’s and the Memorial Garden, his final resting place. And finally, back to the home we shared for 19 years.

Ten hours, 366 miles, six stops, many memories, and tears too numerous to count. It was a hard, but good day remembering not just Joe’s final hours, but the whole history of us.

With love,


Pin It on Pinterest