Harvard-Radcliffe Class of '89

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Pastoral Reflection on the life of Tasha Marie Vincent

June 14, 2019

Reverend Robin DeAngelis

As we gather to remember Tasha, and celebrate her life, I believe that we gather too, as people of faith.  Not only are we people of faith, but we are people of hope because of Jesus.  We come to celebrate Tasha and remember her life, but we come to be reminded of the hope that for those who have faith in Christ Jesus, we believe that death does not have the final word.

When Jesus died, despite his teaching about his resurrection, his followers thought all was lost.  They were so despondent that Jesus returned to see them again, to offer them one more teaching on his resurrection.  He left again, and as he did, he left blessing them.  Tasha left this life blessing all of you.  She died as she lived, full of strength, courage and with great dignity.   Despite her being differently abled, she lived life with gusto and enthusiasm.  She had a smile that lit up a room and her eyes twinkled like nobody’s business. Being in her presence was a gift, because when she was with you, it felt like you mattered. She was more concerned about others, especially those who were caring for her.  She was a rare person.  She was one of those people whose life was an example for all who knew her.  She believed in doing everything to the best of her ability and then some.  She was as straightforward a person as they come.  She believed in speaking the truth, in being honest.  She believed that one should always treat others with respect.  You never had to wonder how she felt.  You always knew where you stood.  And you stood loved by her.  She was a loving daughter, sister, and wife.  She was a cherished friend.  Her love for you is a tremendous gift and legacy that she has left with you.  

When Kurt and I met to plan this service and he shared photos and memories of Tasha with me, one word kept coming to my mind – fearless. Tasha lived her life on purpose and if there was something she wanted to do, she made it happen. Like parasailing in Tahiti on their honeymoon. Looking at the photos and her wide joy filled smile, touched me deeply. I could see the exhilaration in her face. As I said, fearless, living life her way as an adventure.

Tasha was gifted with a great intellectual ability. She loved literature and scrabble. She invited me to play scrabble online once, but I declined. I consider myself to have an above average vocabulary, but hers, phenomenal. I couldn’t bear the devastation of her wiping up the board with me. Tasha was creative and fun. I was so impressed by the wedding cake she had designed for she and Kurt’s wedding. It was a cake decorated like a scrabble board with words strategically placed that had special meaning to the two of them. Their wedding day also happened to be the day of their niece’s birthday and she had a special birthday cake made for her and had everyone sing happy birthday to her. She didn’t want her birthday to get lost in the celebration of their wedding.

Tasha was what I would call spiritual, but not religious. The institutional church held little appeal to her, but it did not mean she didn’t have a deep and profound spirituality. She did enjoy coming to our once a month alternative worship service, Connections. It is anything but traditional and suited her spirituality well. She “connected” with all who attended, and we loved being in her presence and all that she brought to our gathering.

Mother Teresa once said that the problem with the world is that we have forgotten that we belong to each other. Tasha understood that. She believed in the interconnectedness of all life, that God is in all things of creation and for that reason everything we do matters, that all human life was valuable, worthy. She would hand out cards that simply stated, YOU MATTER. She affirmed everyone she had the opportunity to meet and know.

Our book study group read the book, The Shack. When it came out on film, a group of us went to see it. Tasha joined us. She really enjoyed it. I believe it was because it so spoke to her understanding of God. And, I don’t think it was any small serendipitous event that the nurse who spent the first night in the hospital with Tasha was also with her in her final hours. Her name was so similar to Sarayu, the Holy Spirit in the movie.

Those we love may leave us physically when they die, but their spirit continues to live on, not just with God, but with all the people they love.   

The love you shared, that kind of closeness and bond never fades.  It is a connection that will stay with you deep in your heart, even though, physically, Tasha is no longer here. 

It is so very difficult to lose someone that we love as much as you all loved Tasha, but I hope you will find comfort in the wonderful memories you have of her.   We know that Tasha is now released from the restrictions of her earthly body and any pain she endured or sadness she felt.  She is at peace and in the comfort of the loving arms of God. The reading from Revelation assures us that Tasha is in a place with God where there is no more crying or pain. She is released from all earthly restrictions and knows only joy. She is existing in a place where peace passes all our understanding.

As people of faith, though we are confident that Tasha is in the arms of God, we still grieve.  We mourn the loss of the one we loved so deeply.  We will miss their presence in our lives.  But grief is an important part of letting go.  Even Jesus grieved.  We know that Jesus wept at the death of his beloved friend, Lazarus.   Grief is an emotion – a gift God gives us.  It reminds us that we are alive and that someone special, someone important to us lived in our midst and mattered.  Grief is a reminder that the one whom we’ve said goodbye to, made a difference in our lives, had an impact on us, and contributed so much to who we are today.  I know that Tasha had a tremendous impact on all of you, and the lives of everyone else whom she loved.  I know the loss and resulting grief you feel is profound. But I believe God is with you and shares your grief. 

No one likes good-byes.  Yet, the word goodbye means may God be with you.  So know that God is with Tasha and know too, that God is with you as you move through your grief.

As the days pass, remember Tasha and all that she was to you.  Think of her often. Remember the words she spoke, the joy she shared, as well as the love she imparted.  Please let these things be a source of comfort and joy for you.  Thank God for the very special relationship she had with each one of you and for the gift that Tasha was to all of you. 

Now it is time to send her to God, trusting that as God took care of her in this life, God will surely take care of her now.  God has welcomed her to a place of peace and fulfillment beyond our understanding. She is safe and she is loved.

If she were here with us, she would tell each one of us that we matter. I will say it on her behalf. You matter. Pass it on.


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