Capitol Hill mourns the sudden death of Mary Rush,
who was an integral part of our neighborhood and our lives

From Voice of the Hill (vol 6, no 3), p 8, 3 June 2004

We print below an appreciation of Mary sent by a reader.

Some here tonight may believe that Mary can see or hear us from another realm, sphere, reality or any other word you can think of to describe the beyond. I’m one of those that do. So I will say a few words to her.

Mary, I didn’t know you very well. We didn’t run in the same circles socially. I saw you in the halls of Watkins. I subbed your class a couple of times. We would greet each other and exchange pleasantries. The last time I saw you, I was subbing for the art teacher, and I was returning your class to you at the end of the art session. That was the day before you died. Monday afternoon.

On Tuesday afternoon, I did not sub that day and was walking up the steps by the playground to pick up my kids and a mother told me about your death. I was frozen in the spot where I stood. I sputtered, “The tall teacher? Light brown hair? Her? I just saw her yesterday, she…she…” I trailed off. Was it true? Could it be?

I unfroze myself and entered the school building. I numbly asked the Montessori teachers if it were true. In hushed voices, they said it was. I got my kids from their classrooms and dashed down the hall. I didn’t want to talk to anybody else. I needed to deal with your passing on my own terms. I didn’t want to make small talk about it. I needed to digest this terrible tragedy without anybody around.

If you can see us gathered around here tonight, you can see that you affected more people than you probably imagined. I hope you feel this outpouring of love being shown to you.

Maybe you have a lot of concerns about your family and your classroom and all the things you were involved in. Maybe you are considering your unfinished business and maybe this causes your soul some unease. I’m guessing that everybody here tonight wonders why. The way you died here on this playground, the suddenness of your passing. Why? Such a great person. Why were you called away and in such a fashion?

Nobody will ever know, and faith of all kinds has been shaken. Children ask where you have gone. I’m asking, too. If you are here and can hear, it is because you are concerned about your earthly tasks. They were many and far-reaching. But you can’t perform them in your usual way anymore. Everybody here thinks you were taken far too early and cruelly, but somewhere, somehow, there is a reason why you were called away. We will never know, but I hope you will be able to find out. Maybe it will take time, but don’t worry about these earthly things anymore. Your family will have to go on. Your students will have to keep getting lessons.

If there is a place of beauty and peace after our lives on this earth, Mary, you need to go there and see the things you need to see. Watch from above and do what you can to help us in our daily dealings. Visit your close people in their dreams and tell them you have peace and give them comfort. Give them strength to carry on. The next few years of their existence will be so difficult.

Sometimes it seems like the news is so bad. The terrible things happening in Iraq, the suffering that seems to increase on a daily basis. The tragedies your own little school is dealing with, not just your death, but also the death of your good friend, Cathy Pfieffer, whom we all hope you will get to see if you haven’t already. The sadness the Rush and Pfeiffer families have to endure forever. The child Darius and his family. Near and far, it seems the news is bad.

Mary. You share the same name with Jesus’ mother. Send us a miracle. Give us hope in these difficult times. Help us to find the beauty in the small things because sometimes small things are all we have to go on. Be with us, send some light our way, Mary, whichever Mary might be listening, hear this prayer.

Amen?

IRENE KOKKALES-NATZKE.