June 26 was just a regular Friday with a regular trip from Bluffton to the island for a regular afternoon card game.

Except it wasn’t. Regular, that is.

I always listen to NPR on my way across the bridges, and that Friday afternoon was no different. But what an extraordinary and exceptional little voyage it turned out to be.

That afternoon NPR aired the funeral service of Sen. Clementa Pinckney in Charleston.

In those 30 minutes I had by myself in the car, listening to the radio, I went from full-body goose bumps as the church soprano reached a high note that stopped your heart, to admiration for Sen. Pinckney’s many accomplishments, to listening to a requiem that could not be matched by any composer, to eulogies that turned phrases upside down and touched your soul, and stories that got you laughing out loud and then put a foot on your throat and caught you up short in the loss.

I was grateful for the lack of traffic on the bridges, for the sun in the sky, for going to a place where I felt comfortable.

But, at that moment, I simply wanted to be there, in that arena. To be in the moment. To let it take me over, give me grace and release me from the sadness. And the madness.

To feel, sway, hold, be held, sing, cry, laugh, remember, renew, rejoice, forgive.

But I wasn’t there.

So I’ll listen again and again to the music and the stories.

I’ll listen to Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” and be moved, as always, by its evocative and melancholic themes.

I’ll listen to the harp and the alto sax play together in the requiem and marvel at the creation of such a piece of music.

I’ll remember the story told by one of his college buddies about their treasured, fun-loving and lifelong friendship. I’ll do all that.

But I still wish I could have been there.

And I wish they were all still here.

Sallie Collins enjoys living on the banks of the May River and writes about it in her blog, www.LifeOnTheMay.com, from which this article is taken.