I knew Allie Bucy when she was about 8. Her mom, Carolyn was the youth minister at the church where I was a member. I was pretty self-involved at the time (what’s new?), planning for my wedding and going through the process of licensing to the ministry at the church. I left soon after those two events, that year, in fact, to go to seminary and on my way in life.
My path recently crossed Allie’s again when her mom, Carolyn wrote an email telling me that Allie was living in DC . . . flurries of emails ensued and reconnection was underway. It was just a few weeks later, last Friday, in fact, that I got the call to go down to the hospital. Only 23 years old, Allie had died of complications from Type IV Vascular Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. The sadness was overwhelming.
Allie’s community in Texas is mourning her loss. At her memorial service in Waco last Tuesday Rev. Sharlande Sledge prayed the following prayer, putting in words the unspeakably difficult, as she always does so well. I thought I’d share it here:
Good and Compassionate God, this morning we are here to think about Allison, and we are here to think about you.
We are here to bless Allison’s life, the whole of it and the wholeness of it for every moment and fiber of her being was radiantly, fully, exuberantly alive. She came into this world “trailing clouds of glory,” wrapped in a mantel of meaning, an “old soul” cast in the shape of a precious and precocious girl, she left this earth leaning forward into the new day and new dreams.
We bless Allison–the toddler with big brown eyes who reached out to your world with all her senses and hugged it close and gave it away over and over to each person she met.
We bless Allison–the little girl with the hot pink cast on her leg, riding in a little red wagon, who with spunk and determination showed us that nothing would slow her down, who despite what others might call limitations, jumped passionately into life.
We bless Allison–the beautiful, spontaneous young woman who knew that the world is wildly alive in all directions, extravagant and bright, who dreamed of a vocation that ushered in God’s kingdom of justice and peace for every person on this earth.
Blessed be Allison–daughter of God, child of joy, generous spirit, holy gift of our Creator. Blessed be her life. She lived not the length of it but the width and depth of it as well.
O God, from the moment of her birth, Allison lived as one of your wounded healers who found energy and life in the midst of it all, who admitted her vulnerability and showed us how to live with illness and grace.
Bless Allison, O God, and bless those who loved her throughout her life and will love her forever–for these are the ones who today know that searing pain of loss, whose grief is raw or tender or numb; for all who have a huge Allison-shaped hole in their lives.
Lord, have mercy on all whose hearts are breaking. When they cry to you and it seems that morning will never come, and the aches and pain seem unbearable, hear their lamentation. We call upon your healing power to be their consolation and their comfort, their refuge and their strength, a very present help in trouble. Catch their tears in your hands and attend to their sorrow. Care for them as they reshape their lives in the context of grief and try to make sense of the chaos of their feelings. Bless the cleansing release of tears. Bless them as storytellers as they create a scrapbook of memories in their hearts.
Hear our trust and our hope, for we believe that your faithfulness is great and your promises are sure.
We trust in the community of friends to care and be present, even when we cannot fully understand the family’s loss, for we believe in God’s power to offer strength in the midst of suffering. We believe in the mystery of prayer that has drawn us closer to you and to each other as we have prayed for Allison and her family.
Our hope is in You, the Living God, the Christ of resurrection, to live what we have learned from Allison and what we continue to learn from you–that life is a gift and you are the Giver . . . and that nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.