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  • Writer's pictureNajah Amatullah

Some Thoughts About Shelli (Goodwin) Huether

I thought I was going to write a paragraph. It was more.

Here are some thoughts about Shelli, while I half listen to her virtual funeral and at the same time facilitate reading for my virtual students:

You don’t all know how much I love to sing. When I knew Shelli from ages 11-15, singing was probably the only thing that mattered to me. Well, singing and Jesus, and singing for Jesus. Figuring out that I’d never sing like Shelli (namely because she had soprano range and I’m a hard second alto) was a whole part of my growing process. Her letting me sing with her anyway was one of the million reasons she was wonderful.

As a 30-something who deals with teens, who remembers being a 20-something dealing with middle schoolers, I think Shelli was a beautiful, big-hearted, artistic, Jesus-loving, flawed human being. Some people tend to amplify people’s flaws and not be able to see the beauty. That’s never been me. I’m more likely to see the past through rose-colored glasses.

During the slide show, I saw her two sweet children.

I saw her sitting on the floor fitting flowers into an artsy vase for some event.

Me, Kortney and others were once on a similar floor fitting marbles and flowers and votive candles into vases for handmade centerpieces for hers and at least one more wedding. Give me a budget and a fee and an all-day babysitter and I could decorate your wedding. Shelli taught me that.

Seventeen years ago, Shelli was an art teacher at Del City High School and youth leader at Tinker Air Force Base Chapel. She let 5-20 adolescents invade her home 2-4 days a week. The powers that be told her she loved us too much, was too involved. I know some people who agreed. But I, for one, needed what she had to give, what she freely gave, what she was glad to give.

It’s hard being post-Christian and watching a devout Christian funeral.

It’s harder looking at the legacy of people who truly and honestly tried to be like Jesus (when other folx aren’t even trying out here, but that’s a rant for another day).

When I was first notified of Shelli’s death, I just wanted to tell my mom. I believe in the ancestral plane, but I’m not sure if that’s the same as PaPa and Mom (who gave me into Shelli’s care on the drive to church camp in Texas at 11 years old) getting to welcome Shelli into Heaven with the rest of the host. I guess I’ll see when I get there.

Send love and light and peace to everyone who loved her for a moment, for a season.

But send twice as much to those listed here: none of my feelings can hold a candle to a husband who lost a wife, two kids who lost a mom, parents who lost a daughter, a sister who lost her sister.

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“I’se been a’climbin’ on, And reachin’ landin’s, And turnin’ corners, And sometimes goin’ in the dark, Where there ain’t been no light.” -Langston Hughes “Mother to Son” I am from Oklahoma. Midwest Ci

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