Tess Senay Raynovich Art & Earth Fund

Supporting artists and Eco-art 

From Meghan Sheridan (sent to us on 10/28/2013)

Posted by Tess Senay Raynovich Art and Earth Fund on October 30, 2013 at 10:35 PM

A year ago, at nearly this very moment, I was sitting in my living room, cozy and warm while the wind and the rain drenched the night outside. I was not so much "curled up" on my leather armchair as I was awkwardly balancing two separate nursing pillows, a back rest, my boobs, a newborn, and a book. I had just started re-reading a page for the seventeenth time that day when there was a knock at the door. Shawn and I immediately locked eyes, alert, eyebrows raised in worry. No one ever comes over at 9 pm in a rainstorm to tell you good news. Before exhaling, I found the rational explanation-- we'd likely left our minivan doors open again in the rain, and a helpful neighbor was alerting us to our harebrained (yet not uncommon) oversight. Shawn went out on the porch, while I returned to my book--- Sister, by Rosamund Lupton---a story about a young free spirited artist named Tess who has died, and her sister's emotional quest to solve the mystery of her death. Shawn returned to the living room a few minutes later. "I have some bad news. Nancy's daughter Tess was in a car accident this morning. She died." I heard the words coming out of his mouth, but could not immediately weight them with their terrible, awful import. In my post-partum haze I momentarily thought that Shawn was somehow referring to the Tess bound up in the pages of my crime fiction book club selection. The coincidence felt confusing, then uncanny. An instant later, I snapped back to reality and felt the physical roar of the tragic news fill up my entire headspace.

We moved into the house next door to Tess in the summer of 2009. Our houses are so closely situated that a more gymnastic individual than myself would probably be able to shimmy herself up to the rooftop Spiderman-style by getting a toehold and fingerhold on our facing exterior brick walls. I often saw Tess on her front porch, and exchanged neighborly pleasantries with her on my many trips in and out of my front door. Our relationship was familiar, but not deep. We talked about the weather, and my kids, and mostly said a lot of "hi, how are you? fine thanks." Once I stepped out of the house late at night, just as a friend of Tess' was pulling in to her driveway to pick her up. Tess came out of the house looking fashionable and fabulous, and (charitably? naively?) asked me if I was "going out" too, despite the fact that I was wearing sweatpants, slippers and no bra. "Just headed out to the grocery store," I laughed. "Like all the cool kids do at 11 pm." She laughed, and got into the passenger seat of a car (presumably) not headed for Giant Eagle. The only time I ever saw her anywhere other than her porch was at the Ross Park Mall, a few months before she died while headed to her job there. I was playing with my kids at the "robot playground" in front of Old Navy when Tess and I spotted each other, and both did a double-take. "Hi neighbors!" she greeted us. We laughed about how odd it was to see each other out of context like this.

It has been a year since she died. And every day, when I walk out my door, I reflexively look over to my neighbor's porch. And every day, for a year, Tess has not been there. My youngest daughter, Nora, was only a few days old when Tess died. I have been almost ashamed to show her to Nancy--- my beautiful baby a living measuring stick against which Nancy might measure Time Without Tess. I miss seeing her on the porch. I carry on with my days of school drop off and toddler playdates, and grocery shopping, running in and out of the house a hundred times daily. Each time glancing over, always hoping.

Categories: Memory

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1 Comment

Reply Linda Kelley
8:21 PM on January 29, 2014 
So lovely. Thank you.