Gretchen Anthony
MeAndMary.jpg

Essays

Lord, Make Me a Cheerleader

I lost one of my earliest cheerleaders early this morning. That makes three this year—Mary Beth, Nancy, and now Joan. 

Mary Beth didn’t know me as well as the others, but she pushed me as if she did. She had that skill, so rare but powerful, of demanding more. But only because you had more to give, only because your potential was yet to be tapped. You began to believe it. And then to do it. 

Nancy just straight-up told me. “You’re good. You’re funny. You’ve got a future.” She was good, and funny, and smart, and strong. I had no better choice than to believe her. So I did. Slowly. Eventually. I believed her.

And Joan. She was the twinkle-in-the-eye, nudge-nudge, sort of cheerleader. The woman who taught girls like me that nothing was more fun, more satisfying, than to be yourself—colorful and creative and head-turning and even plain ol’ weird. Joan was Joan with the same, playful “let’s go get ‘em” I hoped for my Gretchen. Entire chapters in my playbook from her lessons. 

And now they’re gone.

I knew these days were coming. Too quickly, of course, but I’m no newbie to loss. I can be sad. I can miss them, even as I cherish them.

The question I must now face is this: Who am I cheering on? I still feel like a girl who needs her cheerleaders. I’m sad to say that I don’t think I’m paying their lessons forward. 

So today I begin a new prayer … Lord, make me a cheerleader. 

I can do this. I had great teachers.

Gretchen Anthony