If it takes a village to raise a child, I was particularly lucky to grow up in the middle of a wonderful little village in the middle of the Bronx. All things considered, the village did a pretty good job with a whole bunch of kids, who have since spread out all over the place. Some have gone on to really cool editing gigs, occasional appearances with Keith Olbermann, and our own Wikipedia pages. Others have wound up working as lifeguards in Lower Alabama. But pretty much all of us came away from the village we were raised in with at least three things: a strong understanding of the importance of community, a strong sense of social justice, and the simple knowledge that the best way to make sure that a problem gets fixed is to get in there and fix it.
Those are not things that we know because someone sat us down and talked to us about them. They're things we learned by watching the adults who were around us, and important to us.
Today, we're all mourning the loss of one of the adults who loomed large in our lives. Yesterday, while bicycling to work, Megan Charlop was struck by an opening car door and forced into the path of a city bus. Her death leaves a gaping wound in many, many lives.
A couple of obituaries have already appeared, and I'm sure more will follow, because Meg was important to her community - her family - in so many ways. Chris Hayes described her as, "One of the most righteous, humane,compassionate human beings I've ever had the good fortune to know." The Bronx Borough President talked about her "tireless advocacy". My brother Dan talked about how full of life Meg was, "in every sense of the word." Philip Alcabes says that Meg "wasn't a maker of big policy. She was a maker of many small differences."
Meg Charlop showed me what love of neighbor really looks like, and how much of a force it can be. And so much more. I will miss her a great deal, and my heart bleeds for her family.
Thanks for these important words. They get to the heart of who Megan Charlop was and why she mattered so much to so many. She was a dynamo of love and action.
We buried Meg this morning. Her funeral was attended by so many folks that they spilled out the door of the chapel and into the street - I lost count of the number of cars in the funeral procession (this probably would have bothered her -- she would have preferred we'd thought to rent a bus to save on the environment) -
The best description of Meg came from her oldest daughter, Sarah, who describes her Mom coming off her plane in Chili with her enormous smile wearing an enormous straw hat, her trademark long flowered skirt, and a bright pink knapsack, carrying the baby of the new friends she had met on the plane.
Her son told of how she explained the difference between heaven and hell -- In hell the people have no elbows, and tiny spoons. They're surrounded by food, but their starving. In heaven the people have no elbows and tiny spoons but they're happy. Because they're busy feeding each other.
Megan taught us several important lessons.
Justice is important,
rules can and often should be bent,
that its better to ask forgiveness than permission,
and that with love all things are possible.
Rest in peace Megan.