It was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times — Charles Dickens


John and Coach, Shirrill and Molly
John and Coach, Shirrill and Molly

The Bill Luti Race was a week ago today as I write this blog. I am on my porch using some Jack-Free time to catch up on the ever-growing list of things I have the opportunity to do. (I am using more positive language to re-frame my daily life). Along with the road race last week-end I had two funerals and an RB Productions play to watch.

(The title will make sense soon)

As wonderful as the race is, and as entertaining as the plays are, they both represent someone who is no longer here. Coach Luti and Molly. This week-end would have been emotional enough with out the funerals.  The race has been a labor of love since before Coach Luti died. It is more so now. We don’t want him to disappear. RB allows Molly to remain in the spotlight and to continue to make people happy. As much as I love watching the performances, all I think about is Molly.

Shirrill Cofrin and John Gfroerer.

These are the beautiful humans who were laid to rest this weekend.

Shirrill was the wife of Rusty Cofrin, a math teacher with whom I coached track and cross-country at Concord High School. Rusty had serious and terminal brain cancer and spent much of the last twenty years quite sick. We all assumed he would pass away before his wife, who was at his side every day since his first diagnosis in 2006. She died rather quickly from her own cancer. Diagnosis to death just a matter of months.

I did not get to say good-bye. I spoke with her daughter Nikki, who ran for me while she was at CHS. I sent her my love and we shared memories. The calling hours were right after the Bill Luti Race and right before Annie Jr., an RB show I was attending. By the time I had cleaned up after the race it was time to go to the theater.

It was all I could do not to cry throughout the entire performance.

Gracie and I sat near Miss Cindy and Sarah Nyhan. Concord Dance Academy was the show sponsor and The MollyB Foundation is the company sponsor. We did our perfunctory waves. Our tears were shared, and while some of it was because the actors were so cute, they were also for our friend. The other person whose death was being recognized. John Gfroerer.

Jack’s first CDA Dance Recital was John’s last show recording.

As I laid down to go to sleep Saturday night after the Mary Poppins performance I thought of John. He was a pivotal piece of what made MollyB the Musical the success that it was. He was patient and tender with me as we selected photos to use for the closing slide show. He seldom showed too much emotion so working with him was level and calm. I needed that.

He spent two full days on a sunny weekend in May putting that slide show together.

I will never forget that.

His funeral was beautiful. A very traditional Episcopal service in a beautiful country church. The pews, filled with a veritable who’s who of the Concord Elite, were also full of hippies and teachers, poets and filmmakers, authors and journalists. His eulogy was delivered beautifully by his older brother and youngest daughter. Both articulate and eloquent, I came away feeling like I really knew him better. I could see the John that I did know in every story they shared.

Ollie was there as well.

Ollie is one of my all-time favorite young people. The son of a childhood friend of my sister Johanna, his father was on the school board with me. I have known him for a long while. He is unabashedly himself, which, I think, is what I love most about him. A wonderful hug from his mother, meeting his fantastic sister Bea, and having a long visit with him made the event more manageable for me. John was his great uncle.

John is a Molly connection.

As those connections disappear it feels sometimes like she does too. Her circle gets smaller and smaller. I saw a lot of people there, standing on the porch of The Snowshoe Club. Located at the end of Via Tranquilla, this place is a longtime Concord landmark. A traditional “men’s club”, it is a rustic function hall with a small bar, a great room with fireplace and a small commercial kitchen.

I sort of wanted to wear an ascot and smoke a pipe.

I spent a long time talking with Miss Cindy. John was her age. This aspect of growing old can be anxiety producing. One by one your people begin to move on. At 73 this is a more frequent happening for Cindy. She is off to a high school reunion and remarked that she wasn’t sure how many classmates were still around to attend.

We talked about John’s business, Accompany Video. He does all of the local dance recitals, plays, and performances. Every DVD of Molly’s dance and theater performances come from John. Whenever I wanted replacements, I could simply call him and he created them. Who will do this now?? It is not lost on me that Jack’s first performance was John’s last performance recording at the Capitol Center for the Arts. 

Jack said “hi John” in his little voice as we left.

I will miss John terribly. I will miss Shirrill terribly. These are not people I saw with any regularity but they were there. I could think of them in the present tense. I could call and check in. I miss Coach Luti and Molly as well. On a whole different level obviously, but losing all of these people makes a huge piece of my life “over”, Their departure put’s these relationships into the past tense. They stop where they left off and I continue along without them.

It was the best of times…

Running for coach Luti, giving birth to and spending 13 years with Molly, sharing high school team dinners with Shirrill and trusting John to make the closing slideshow for MollyB the Musical.

It was the worst of times…

Feeling that ache of loss as someone other than Coach Luti blows the starters whistle at the race. Missing Molly as I see her name illuminated on the wall of the theater and watch scores of young people getting to do what she didn’t live long enough to do. Not making it to Shirrill’s calling hours, knowing how sad her family must be, and finally, saying good bye to John on a rainy July day. All in all, a very special weekend.

2 Responses

  1. That must be the hard part of relocating, Linda, you have this wonderful, happy life where you are but all those little connections from home make their way into your past without you. I’m glad that you read it, and that you could resonate with how sad it was to lose both of them. Sending love to Arizona!

  2. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt comments. One of the saddest parts of being so far from home is my lost connections with friends. I am very sad over the passing to two wonderful friends. God bless their families 🕊️

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