Today’s news is overwhelming, and it is hitting me harder than I would have expected: Maya Angelou is dead at the age of 86.
Fortunately, it seems, she went quickly from some complication of a lingering heart condition. Her agent Helen Brann offered ABCNews this insight: “She’d been very frail and had heart problems, but she was going strong . . . Her spirit was indomitable.”
It is heartening to hear that she did not experience loss of awareness and focus in her last days. Her wit, charm, creativity, humanity, humor, grace—they all stayed with her until the end. And those traits will stay with us through her work and words. As she noted, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Well, Maya Angelou made me feel alive, grateful, appreciative, hopeful. What a great lady! She will be missed.
I am torn about how to commemorate her life, our loss. But I decided I am not going to review her life and works in this blog. I have done that before. And many news sources are sharing accounts of her life today. Instead, I want to be comforted by her words and ideas. I plan to reread I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings over the next several days. But here is Maya Angelou reading her poem “Phenomenal Woman.” It is one of my favorites. And, oh, what a great smile!