Eating spritz cookies is usually a happy time – often a holiday, but on this bright, October afternoon, as I bite the spritz dough, my throat tightens and tears come. Connie was about my age when she died this October 3 – too soon, it might seem, by our measure of years, but I need not grieve. Her father set the example Sunday when he told us all in church that they (her family) were celebrating the release of her spirit to a better place. For those who knew and loved her most, losing her brought with the loss a relief.
Connie was not the woman she was supposed to have become. She was robbed of her normal life by a car accident that left her paralyzed. All of the hopes and dreams that she should have known were no longer possible.
Her sister made spritz cookies in her memory because they were her favorite. Most of Connie’s family came to church and helped pass out bags of cookies tied up with lovely, light blue ribbon. They included brief, but beautiful, messages on blue paper asking us to have cookies and tea and remember Connie.
When we were teenage girls, four or five of us sang a special song during a church service. Connie had a good voice. I remember that she would have been willing to practice singing parts like I wanted to do, but the others didn’t want to try it. I thought if it were just Connie and me (and we could overcome our stage fright), we could sing harmony, but we were timid, self-conscious teens, and we never tried anything like that together again.
I had never thought about how much we had in common. With blue ribbon tied on the cookie bags, I’m wondering if light blue was a favorite color of hers; it is one of mine.
Spritz cookies have a special place in my life, too. We both liked to make them with colored dough. I’m sentimental about them because my Aunt Esther Anglemyer gave me my first cookie press because she knew how I loved her spritz. Mine never seem to taste as good as hers did.
Connie and I were both bank tellers. We knew what it’s like to work with the public. We could put on a smile and be patient even when we didn’t like being with the person we were with (we had talked about that once).
We both grew up in homes with loving parents and strong bonds between our siblings even after we left home.
We both have fathers who have a great faith in God. They feel from the heart and aren’t afraid to show it when something moves them. With tears in their eyes and wavering voices, our dads taught us that it is good to feel deep faith, humility and reverence.
I feel these things now about Connie. Although she is gone, she has helped me to see more clearly who I am. She reminds me that life is a fragile, precious gift and that I must savor it and be caring, giving and loving.
As I savor my spritz cookies, I now have one more reason to love them so much. I sip my tea and thank God for Connie Smith. She is with him now, and the bit of her I keep in my memories is sweet and warm like the tea and cookies.