The memorial service for Robin Harvey took place last Friday morning at the First Congregational Church. Here's how it unfolded, for those of you who could not be there to share our grief.
Robin's service was so very beautiful albeit heart wrenching as well. The church was full to capacity and there was standing room and overflow into the north vestry. Likely around 900 people. In my 26 years of attending First Congregational I have never seen our Summer Sanctuary so full. Such an outpouring of love!
Barbara Elder played the piano and did an amazing job as she always does, starting with Somewhere Over The Rainbow. The Musical Reflection, very poignant and soothing, was TheAshokan Farewell by Jay Ungar. Jacob Butler and Jessica Goodenough Heuser sang like blessed angels, especially when they did Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, which is when the tears came down for me and many others.
Schools Superintendent Michael Cozort did a really great job talking about Robin's hard work on the school committee and dedication to all Nantucket's children, and he wanted her kids to know that she "always did her homework and was well prepared". He shared how she even came into his office after Juno to see how he was holding up after all the cancellations and to thank him for making the school a safe haven for our community during the storm. The most touching part of his story I think was when he talked about how Robin picked him up at the ferry when he came over for his interview, and when he asked her about our island she said, "We take care of each other here, it's just what we do. Nantucket is a very magical place". And he went on to say that Robin's description of our community was one of the major reasons he accepted the job as Superintendent.
Adrienne, Robin's eldest and a 7th grade English teacher, did the eulogy in the form of a letter to her mom, because she said she was never taught how to write a eulogy and it is not something she teaches her students. She was unwavering in her strength and love and I knew she could get through it...she is so much like her strong mother! (Adrienne is an amazing writer--you probably have read some of her blog when Robin was going through her long recovery. It was very cathartic for her and her family, and so beautifully written). She covered so many topics; Robin's devoted love as mother and grandmother, great basketball and softball coach, cheerful face at the Sea Grille treating not only the staff as family but the customers as well. And of course her long journey back to health from the bike accident and how she was a living miracle and beacon of hope for all of us. It was so touching and moving...I really cannot do it justice. (Thinking about that recovery, I remember Robin came to church with her helmet on after the accident and we would all hug her and feel such hope, that miracles truly happen. And then the fact that she and her daughters ran the marathon together and raised a ton of money for Spaulding. I love the photo of them together in their Boston Strong shirts...I mean...such inspiration and strength for everyone. What a miracle that she could even walk again, never mind run the marathon). Adrienne talked about what a fierce competitor Robin was and how she even ran down to the boys’ lacrosse huddle during one of the big playoff games (Tucker was our incredibly talented goalie, my son, Brennan Dooley and others on the team) to give them a pep talk and how embarrassed Tucker was. And the congregation laughed as many remembered that awesome day! This is how the eulogy went...tears...laughter...more tears...chuckles...as everyone cherished these memories together.
Rev. Bill Steelman, our Associate Minister, always so strong and poignant in his prayers, somehow comforted us through our shock and deep sorrow at the loss of our beautiful angel Robin. Rev. Gary Klingsporn, Senior Minister, whose Meditation was titled "To Run and Not Be Weary," first acknowledged how hard this tragedy has hit our community, and how people have been grasping for answers, but cautioned against the idea that "God wanted her in heaven, or God took her from us for a higher purpose". He believes that Christ is weeping right along with us, and will give us the strength to carry on. He spoke about Robin's devotion to the Christian faith as a regular member and church volunteer for so many years, and her dedication to the entire community. He said that we could be angry and bitter at this tragic event or we could be grateful that we were given such a beautiful gift as Robin's life, "and when you are given a gift, you say thank you". He repeated this phrase numerous times in his graceful way, while speaking about gratitude and the example that Robin set for all of us to follow. Gary has an amazing way to soothe and uplift his congregation even in the face of difficult life challenges. He is an incredibly gifted and sincere speaker, gentleman, friend, who always brings the scriptures to every day modern life in such a way we can process and understand and be stronger, better people. He and Bill, and the beautiful music at FCC have restored our spirits in the darkest of times. Gary ended with "Robin would want us to keep running, and not be weary!"
And then after another prayer, we exited the sanctuary to "Take me Home, Country Road..."
Outside on the snowy lawn, I proudly watched my grown-up son and all Tucker's and Kari’s buddies (along with everyone else), who traveled in horrible weather from Boston, the Carolinas, California, and beyond, embrace one another in great big comforting hugs and kind words! This is the power of Robin's LOVE on our dear little Grey Lady. I am so very blessed to have known this amazing woman, and so grateful that my son has grown up with the friendship of the Harvey family as such an exemplary example of love and devotion to family, friends, and community.
[The Ashokan Farewell, above, is played by JR Perkins via youtube]
[Photo credit: Nantucket Cottage Hospital]