Letter: Remembering Connie
I don’t think we’ll ever know what really happened. We know when and we know where. And now, we know who. At least, we know who died. It’s unlikely we will ever know who drove the vehicle or vehicles that hit her. It’s entirely possible they are themselves completely unaware.
On the evening of Feb. 14, alongside the Vapor Caves on Interstate 70, my friend Connie died. She carried no identification and it was two days before authorities were able to determine through fingerprints who had died. I learned on the morning of the 16th that she was the fatality my husband Greg and I drove by on our way home from dinner.
In the days since, I’ve spent many hours contemplating what it means to call someone a friend and just as many hours in the curious mystery of the way death touches a community. Often, someone’s death touches their community in the way their living did when they were alive. But, sometimes, we are touched in such quiet ways by someone’s love or goodness, we may not necessarily be aware of it.
Connie Leckwold touched lives every day for the past 13 years as one of the valets at Valley View Hospital. It isn’t very likely that she would ever have been recognized for an Athena Award or nominated for a humanitarian award, but in 2008 when Valet Services won the Spirit of Caring Award for Valley View, it was largely because of the small and quiet ways Connie touched lives. No one was happier, more proud or more enthusiastic that night than Connie.
She performed her duties as a valet with her whole heart, and her whole heart was huge. She remembered the names of regular visitors. She greeted people with eager kindness and always had a kind word of encouragement or love. And all of that enthusiasm and joy went a long way to cover up a life filled with feelings of inadequacy and pain.
Since learning of her death, my contemplations of what it means when we call someone a friend have left me feeling the vacancy created in her death with a sorrowful tenderness. She was a good person and she was a person who lived with the deep wounds of difficult life circumstances and choices not always made wisely.
I want to believe all of that is behind her; that she now knows the peace that consistently avoided her in her living. I want to believe she knows she was cared for and cared about. She is gone. But she is not and will not be forgotten.
I hope I have a long time yet to live, but I also hope I never live long enough to forget the way she made me feel when she’d greet me on my way into Valley View any day she was at her post in the past 13 years.
Thank you, Connie, for sharing yourself with us. God speed … God bless … and please save me a seat …