Many have given their thoughts about her passing in various mediums, but I want to write about the time that I got to see her in person.
It was April 21, 2007. I was living in Greenville at the time, working at the public library there. The city has an arts festival every year called Artisphere and at the time, it was a fairly new festival (they just celebrated their 10th anniversary). So it was a major coup that they were able to get Maya at this festival. So I gather the little bit of coins that I had (because I sure wasn't making a lot of money working circulation at the library) to come up with the $30 (I think) to see Maya at the Peace Center.
The Peace Center was PACKED. People from all colors were there, trying to soak up the knowledge that Maya was going to give us. But the sad thing is that I don't remember much what she talked about. Or the poems she read. I also wished that I had taken pictures, but from what I remembered, no pictures were allowed (except for media). She did talk for about an hour. I wish I could find a more detailed story about her time in Greenville, but all I could find was this AP blurb. Some of it did come back to me after reading the article. And as far as I know, there is no YouTube video.
But what I do remember was what happened when the event was ending. While everyone was participating in a standing ovation, someone was drawing the curtains. Since the ovation was still going after the curtains were drawn, the curtain operator decided to pull the curtains back. Someone was bringing Maya's wheelchair and ran to the back of the stage. I guess she didn't want anyone to know that she was using a wheelchair at that time. I figured because of her age she would need one. Such an odd memory for me to have of her.
I didn't get a chance to meet her, take a picture with her, or get her to sign my book (I had a camera and a book just in case the audience was able to greet her). But I am blessed that I was at least in the same room with her for an hour. Even if it was with several hundred people.
My thoughts and prayers go out to her son Guy, other family members and countless friends she left behind. May Maya relax in paradise.