When I was in middle school, I met a girl named Mary who would become one of my closest friends. Later when I came out, she became a fierce protector and loyal ally. Standing by her side offering support was her mother Linda. Throughout the years, Linda was a surrogate mother when I needed to run something past her before talking to my parents. She was pivotal in making me realize that I was in control of my life and I could choose what I wanted. However, Linda was also incredibly willing to tell when I was being irresponsible or thoughtless.
When I grew up and moved away, Mary and I lost touch for a bit. We synced up again on my 21st birthday, but didn’t remain close. It wasn’t until a few years ago that she moved back to Columbus and we began hanging out more.
Last Halloween, I went to Mary’s house for a small party. Linda was there and we spent several hours discussing what was happening in her life since we last talked. Linda brushed that topic off and asked how I was doing. Mary, Linda, and I talked all night and it was probably one of the best nights I had in while at the time.
A few weeks, maybe months, later, Mary and I got into an argument stemming from each of us having too much to drink. The next day, I got a call from Linda. She acted a mediator and all but forced Mary and I to work out our disagreement.
A little more than a year ago, a friend sent me a text to check Mary’s Facebook page. When I did, I saw that Linda has passed away the night before. Linda was out mowing her yard. Her neighbor felt that she was mowing her lawn too late in the evening and shot her.
My friend group from high school surrounded Mary with love and we made sure she was taken care of while grieving. A few weeks ago, Linda’s killer was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. The sentencing brought some much needed closure for the family and for that I’m thankful.
Today, while writing this, I read back through her obituary. Linda was a single mother who worked her ass off to provide for her family. She started off as a phone operator for a local railroad company and worked her way up to Superintendent of Operations. She graduated from BGSU magna cum laude. She was an activist working for social justice and environmental conservation. She was an amazingly generous and overall badass lady.
Tonight, I light a candle for Linda on my altar. I thank her for her guidance and ask her to continue guide and protect her family.