Last week, Maya Angelou passed away. As when a majestic sequoia dies, her passing came as a shock. Some things, some people, we expect, will never die. And the news of her passing took my breath away.
Sharing the news of her passing, her family posted this statement on her website:
[Ms. Angelou] lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is extremely appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love.
I only knew Maya Angelou through her work and her interviews. Known for so many things, one of the things that always stood out about her for me was her laugh. Wow, she had a laugh. It was more of a rumble, filled with the deep vibrato of a life fully lived.
Many years ago I was privileged to attend a live performance of dance, song, and poetry by Ms. Angelou. She was performing with a men’s choral group. The chorus, with over 100 men, was completely overshadowed by her presence. Ms. Angelou stepped onto the stage to sing and recite and suddenly it was if she was appearing in a one-woman show. Everything else fell away . . . until she brought them back into the performance with her. She was gracious, sensual, vibrant, and wonderfully brilliant. I will never forget that night. The rich timbre of her voice still rings in my ears and stirs my soul.
And reflecting on that night and your amazing life, I say thanks, Ms. Angelou. For the ways that you changed the world and for the ways that you changed me. I like to think you’re looking down on all of us with love.