Missy Moss was a boss, truly.
My old friend crossed over some days ago (if time is of any real importance in this life). It's been depressing since, and starting out a new year this way can be rough. And yet, memories of my friend and what I knew of her life swim back and remind me of how she played a role in getting me here. When I returned to the Christian church as an adult, there she was, welcoming me with open arms—literally, saying “Hey buddy!” and squeezing me to near asphyxiation. You see, Missy was everyone’s buddy. And you qualified as her buddy because you existed. Period. Unconditional love. She was, simply, The Imitation of Christ.
When that same church invited me to be on staff a decade later, same beautiful thing: “Hey, BUDDY!” Missy’s time during this period as an acolyte and crucifer awakened me to my ineptness as a minister. That is, like most clergy, I was obsessed with “doing.” One of Missy’s many gifts was being. A true boss knows how to be. Her mother, Lib, Missy’s primary caregiver and a long-time friend of my own mother, has always been one of those heritage angels who demonstrates faith by both being and doing. Missy and Lib were a team, the best kind. A true team of the heart. When Jesus spoke of kardia (heart), he was referring to “the temple wherein all truth resides,” as George Burns put it in the movie, “Oh God!” It’s the all-encompassing spirit a person exudes. Missy’s kardia was the goodness I strive for, but never seem to achieve. Lib’s constant example of care-taking and compassion showed me the functional definition of love, and Missy's goodness always reminded me that I can do better.
It’s been a Cherokee thing that my ancestors (and a few others) sometimes visit me, particularly—interestingly enough—when my kardia is open to it. I was blessed with one of those visits the other night from Missy. It was brief and based on Lib having made me aware that Missy didn’t have much time left with us. After her visit, I’m as incompetent at “being” as I ever was. Missy was telling me to keep trying. Perhaps I’ll get the hang of it someday. Her visit was a reminder that, though time is more temporal than chronological for me these days, we are to keep moving forward.
I no longer serve the people of God. Instead, I write about imaginary worlds. As a fiction writer, I duck the responsibility of “being” because it appears that I’m just no good at it. Fiction is my shelter from our hostile world, my medicine, my attempt at being. Missy did “being” well and I didn’t. And that’s okay. If you ask anyone who knew this wonderful woman, they will likely tell you the same thing about her uncanny tendency to just be. She had that kind of impact on the world. Here’s what’s awesome about possessing the gift to receive those visitations: I can now talk to my old friend any time I want. Even if she’s silent, I know she’s there to listen. I look forward to our continued conversations, Missy.
We can all take a lesson from Missy in this new thing we call 2024. Just be. The rest will no doubt take care of itself.
Melissa Siler Moss
November 3, 1964-December 29, 2023
Ordination gift from Missy and Lib of Moss Pottery, 2000.
"YOH-nuh" (yonv) means "bear" in Cherokee. Thanks for visiting!