remembering – 2016 edition

erin walker 1977-1994

erin walker :: august 6, 1977 – october 23, 1994

when i close my eyes

she’s too young to be forgotten
her world has only just begun
her future is an empty slate
waiting to be filled
and i see her
standing there
when i close my eyes

dancing in the sky
over moonbeams, around clouds
starlight in her eyes
angels in her hair
and i see her
when i close my eyes

child of the sunlight
daughter of the day
sleeping on bed of roses
with flowers in her hair

the wind it softly kissed her cheek
the raindrops fell like tears

and i see her
when i close my eyes

a thousand white candles
their flames dancing with the air
as rocks play tag with ocean

she’s fast asleep
never to be woken

and i see her
when i close my eyes

© catherine healy
October 23, 1994


I have been reflective on October 22 and 23 for twenty-two years now. I have been blogging about this memory since 2004 (sadly the first posts were lost on a since-deleted blog). Whenever the dates fall on a weekend, it’s harder.

I remember sitting in the Church, during choir practice, waiting for Erin and her brother to arrive. We’d just seen each other the day before at school, and I was ready to start gossiping and giggling about all sorts of things in-between songs. But they didn’t show up.

It was a rainy, miserable October day. Just like today. The Church was damp, humid, a weird combination of too cold, and too warm. You can’t dress comfortably for this kind of weather. The sky was dark, grey. The day was gloomy and glum. Just like today.

I often see women around campus who remind me of Erin. I remember one year there was a student in my Faculty who looked so much like Erin, and whose name was Erin, it made my breath catch. I take the bus home to the South Shore from in town and I think about how Erin did that every day while in high school. A time I rarely ventured into the city. And I remember her, in her school uniform, talking about the bus, and the commute, and how confident she was about the trip. I was terrified of public transportation back then. Sure I would be mugged or worse. Always afraid of the people around me. But Erin was fire. She was flame. She was a spark that would shine bright and confident, even if maybe she didn’t feel that way all of the time. I admired her. I envied her. I loved her.

When you lose a friend while you are still young yourself, I think the loss and emotions stitch themselves into your entire being. Right into your bones. I have lost many others since 1994, but the loss of Erin and her mother are possibly the biggest imprint on my life. I can still vividly recall the smell, sounds, sight, and atmosphere of the Church that Saturday. I can still see myself watching the front doors, waiting for the arrival of my friends. I recall the whispers, the anxiety, the feelings that I can almost taste in my mouth.

And so this weekend, I remember. And I mourn. And I fondly remember all the laughs and good times. Because life is short, and you want to be a spark in the gloom. Remembering Erin always makes me remember to be that spark. For others. For myself.


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