Thursday, December 1, 2011

Up and Over

Emily's Memorial Service at the Peace Corps Office

The event started around 7:30pm with a full house, more than attended the Peace Corps Director Williams visit one speaker noted.  Speeches began with Nikki Briggs, Emily best friend as Master of Ceremonies, speeches from Elisa, our sector director, Dee the assistant country director, a letter from Aaron Williams, the global Peace Corps Director, and a video tribute from Emily’s G.  Briggs did an absolutely amazing job of keeping herself collected most of the time; I was quite impressed.  If it had been Bree, I’d be a puddle of the floor for the forseeable future.  The video tribute wasn’t quite finished, but what we were see was so touching.  G33 is a very close, very special G, and that comes out crystal clear in the video.

After the initial speeches, the rest of us attending the ceremony were allowed to share our own memories of Emily.  The service started around 7:30 and ended after 11pm I think, so you can only image how many people got up to speak.  Some of her Gmates who we didn’t get to see in the video spoke, some added to their video comments, some of us who didn’t know her as closely shared the moments we had with her too.  Even people who didn’t know Emily, but were still touched and detested by the loss of one of our own spoke eloquently about the Peace Corps  Paraguay family.  Final words were giving by Santiago’s family, Emily’s fiancĂ©.

Some people made us cry (I’m looking at you Dee), some made us laugh, some gave us a greater appreciation of our experience in this country and the people sitting next to us.  It was a wonderful tribute to a wonderful person.

At the end of the ceremony a dove was released in Emily’s honor.  The Peace Corps logo is a star coming off of an American flag and becoming a dove; Emily also had a tattoo that read “She flys on her own wings”.  The dove, who had been sitting in a box in the air conditioned office most of the day, flew up… and over…and straight into the glass wall of the hallway surrounding our medical office!

After the shock wore off, and quickly confirming the bird had not injured itself, everyone burst into laughter.  The bird flew away of its own accord a little while later.  Now whenever I start getting misty about the whole situation, I just think about that damn bird and it makes me smile.  Emily had a great sense of humor; I think she would have appreciated the moment.

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