2016 has been a year where we’ve lost a lot of important voices. One of those voices was Gwen Iffil. As an NPR/PBS nerd, I knew her voice and presence from the Newshour. Her cousin Sherrilyn delivered the eulogy at her service earlier in November and had this to say about her cousin:
We will need the example of Gwen in the coming days. Think of the things she showed us: that civility is important; that facts and the truth matter; that standards elevate us; that there’s no nobility in pretending that we don’t see race, but that the chance for nobility comes in how we respond once we see it; that we are not the story—the most important story is always about someone else—that family and friends must be treasured; that privacy is essential for dignity; that excellence is something to strive for every day, that there is no weakness in listening.
An edited version of the whole eulogy can be read here. There’s a certain power in memorial writing that tips us forward even as we honor our loved one and grieving. We trace the impact of the person and how the threads of their lives spin out into the universe , even though they are no longer here to do the spinning.