April 28, 2009

Moments

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:36 pm by jlp412

One of the most humbling components of the aftermath of losing Trisha has been the moments we’ve found in each other: the emails from friends whose words otherwise would have been left unwritten; the ripple effect her loss and her life have had on complete strangers who are newly inspired to reconnect with estranged loved ones or compelled to delve into the spirit of Trisha through the flesh of those of us she touched and then left behind. We’ve gained moments of self-awareness, when we slowly peel off our skin and stare at our bones and our muscles and our hearts pumping blood through our bodies. We’ve gained moments of fear and anger and shock that have drilled deep into the guts of us and stuck there, undeterred, as we try to loosen them up and pull them out so we can breathe again. We’ve gained moments of connection through late night conversations when the magnetic force of the words we say to each other – and the silences that say much more – unite those of us who otherwise would never have experienced this strange joy, this unique comfort, of the blend of grieving and friendship. Mere moments, tiny dots strung across seconds and minutes and days and lifetimes. Moments that spill out sorrow and moments that uncover unexpected joy.
Max Pendergraph, a close friend of Trisha’s and of mine, wrote to me recently about the moments we had with Trisha when she was with us and the moments we’ll have because she left us. His words are written below, and they are beautiful.

sabs-me-trish-and-max-at-mickeys

I keep thinking that I will get the chance to stand up in front of everyone to whom Trisha was important and say something meaningful. That’s why I didn’t jump at the chance when it was offered to me at her funeral and again at her memorial service in Evanston. I was too struck by the quickness of it all to gather any meaningful thoughts in my head and I am taken aback now when I think about the words that her other friends/our friends spoke, and how poignant and important they were.

So the most sense that I can make of anything goes something like this. Our lives are divided into moments. A moment is the smallest unit of time that I can think of, but I still have difficulty wrapping my head around the notion. It’s easier to think about seconds. As I type I can hear the clock tick off the seconds of my life and our lives, and I hate the ticking of a clock. It puts pressure on me to get things done because these ticks are finite, so I prefer to think about moments because I don’t know how long a moment lasts. Is each moment the same length or does each have a different length depending on the circumstances. I’m not sure.

What I do know is that Trisha had fewer moments than most, but what I also know is that she wouldn’t have minded this. If you had asked for a volunteer to live fewer moments so that others could have more, Trisha would have jumped at the chance. This is because Trisha lived each moment fully and with the best intentions and must have had no regrets. I know that each of us would opt to change things with certain people if we knew our moments were running out. We would want to say certain things and leave things differently with many of those we care about and we would hate to think of the loose ends we were leaving untied. Well with Trisha, she didn’t have any loose ends to tie up because she lived every moment with the best intention and treated everyone kindly, warmly, passionately. She saw the best in everyone and gave everyone the benefit of the doubt. She understood the preciousness and the value behind relationships, and surely, their fleeting nature.

And she would not have wanted any of us to feel sadness over her loss, which brings to mind the strange mixture of feelings that I’ve been trying to sort out. It’s like Luke said in his letter that Mark read at the memorial, it’s impossible to think back on time spent with Trisha and be sad. The sadness of course comes in thinking that those shared moments are at an end. I just want to say that each and every single one of those moments that any of us were lucky enough to share with her are equally as important as the moments that have passed since she left us, the moments that are passing as you read this and any moments that may come. They happened. They are true and real. Every moment is a gift and it is what you make of it. Trisha knew this and made the most of each, and thereby made our lives that much fuller. She showed us how to live by setting an example.

Trisha did great, important things with her time and was destined to do so much more. That leaves on us a hefty responsibility: to live as she would have us live. To achieve those things that she had left on her plate. Not necessarily trying to follow in her life’s course, but to do those things toward which we are inclined by our nature or personality or interests or abilities with the qualities that Trisha exemplified: earnestness, honesty, intelligence, humility, a constant sense of humor, and kindness, to name but a few.

It still hasn’t hit me that she’s gone. I was fortunate enough to have dinner with her three days before the accident, and strangely, we said a proper goodbye. So I feel like she’s out there doing the amazing things she had set off to do. Writing this and talking about Trisha helps me to process what happened but I’m realizing now that this sort of thing hits slowly, as certain experiences remind me of some aspect of Trisha’s personality, or some setting makes me think of her. So I encourage you to talk, to write, and to remember.

trisha-and-max

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April 26, 2009

A Letter, Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:55 pm by jlp412

Dear Trisha,

A few weeks ago I wrote you a letter. I hope it made its way to you on time and undamaged.

I wanted to add something to my initial delivery – and I’m sorry I didn’t think to include it sooner but as it turns out it is a gift freshly crafted and it wasn’t ready when I sent the first package to you.

It’s a patchwork pumping heart.

I almost didn’t send it at all. I didn’t want to taunt you with it since the only reason it’s beating, the only cause of its formation in the first place, is your death. I cannot tell you with how much yearning I want to smash it into your chest right now so it can bring you back here with us, but it doesn’t seem to work that way. I decided to send it anyway because I thought you could hold it close to you when you doubt the stubborn persistence of the life pulsing through those who you’ve left among the living. Its beat is proof that we are still here even when we stumble and gasp for breath and even when all we want to do is just curl up and live in the memory of you. I know you still want us to laugh and eat and grow and be here, even when we ourselves want none of those things, so I thought this heart would comfort you. It has our names scribbled on it; the proud owners of the hundreds of tiny pieces that are puzzle-fitted together to form one complete heart. I thought you’d be surprised by some of the contributors.

You see, Trisha, this heart is a melding of bits and pieces of the hearts of all of us, pasted together by new friendships we’ve formed through shared longing for you. You’ll see pieces from your parents paired unexpectedly next to slivers from the hearts of your friends they never really knew when you were alive. You’ll find the names of people you knew in untouching spheres of your life that are now carved in right next to each other. Emails are exchanged across oceans now because of you. Your family is enveloping your boyfriend with a seamlessness that is breathtaking because of you. Your childhood friends are reaching out to your college friends who are reaching out to mothers of your friends, all because of you. These are the names that are written, looping over each other and crammed in next to each other in a hundred different handwritings, inscribed on the surface of the heart you hold in your hand as you read this.

We are, individually, just a bunch of people walking around with missing pieces of ourselves, incomplete. But together, Trisha, together, we are a patchwork, a tapestry, a mesh of parts of you and parts of us that now blend together to form a heart. Look at what you’ve allowed us to be.

I hope you’ll accept this strange gift, and the ones I will keep sending to you piecemeal as the days go on. I want to keep giving you things, Trisha, because I don’t want you to ever doubt that we receive your packages, the ones you keep thrusting forward to us and tumbling down on top of us when we open our eyes in the morning and walk into new days without you: you have given us each other.

So I give you this heart.

My love to you wherever you are, always,

Jamie

April 23, 2009

Trisha is a Tapestry

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:38 pm by jlp412

Trisha is a tapestry, stretching from one corner of the world to the other and draping over all of us in between. She hangs low, brushing the tops of our heads or the upturned palms of our hands as they reach straight up toward the sky. The fabric is soft and colorful. The thread is thick and strong.

Sometimes I tug at her corners and wrap her around my shoulders and tuck my feet into the folds of her. Sometimes I just run my hand along the upraised stitches and textured patches of fabric to make sure she’s still there. And other times I sew in a square or two myself and I toss up the needle and thread above my head and someone else picks up where I’ve left off.

I tell a story of Trisha to someone who doesn’t know. Another patch is added.

I receive pieces of the hearts of perfect strangers in response to the words written here and I feel drawn to them, pulled closer to them through the shared language of loss. There goes one more stitch.

I skip the gym and instead meet an old friend for dinner and I stay out too long, carried away by comfortable conversation. One more square is sewn in.

Trisha’s tapestry blankets people who met her only once, it covers the heads of her family and it adds color into the memories of friends who had not seen her since childhood. She has an artful hand – there are beads adorning the corners of some patches and tiny mirrors dotted across others, and some squares have tassels and others are made from silk and the tapestry is filled with bright purples and deep emerald greens and golds and oranges.

The design isn’t perfect – some squares are only partially sewn in. Others are unraveling a bit at the corners and some have stains or rips or faded fabric. There are holes.

But they never remain for too long – our fumbling, clumsy hands settle into the steady rhythm of Trisha and we somehow learn to weave her thread with our fingers. We becomes skilled artisans too, suddenly familiar with the many types of textured cloth we have to choose from every day. We find ourselves stitching together total strangers and reattaching ourselves to each other with even thicker thread and we sew with such fervor that our hands bleed. The result is well worth it; as we sew, we heal.

Trisha is a tapestry.

April 22, 2009

I Want

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:08 am by jlp412

I want to look at a picture and be zapped into its freeze-framed moment of unknowing.

I want to talk about Trisha to anyone who will listen, all the time, every minute, every day, to keep my mouth from forgetting how to form the words of her name, and to keep my mind from losing the stories I tell and retell, and to keep my heart from splitting further at its seams from the force of her absence.

I want.

I want her voice, and I want it to live outside of the video clips we have left to replay over and over again. I want to hear the way it rose up at the end of her sentences, the way she laughed softly and shook her head at our antics, the softness and the calmness and the smile, always a smile, she left us with.

I want her travel blog to be filled with stories of her adventures so far. I want to know her as Trisha Apte, MPH, and I want to see how her time in Ghana will change her and I want to watch and wonder about the maybes and the what-ifs of her journey.

I want to miss her temporarily, knowing she’ll return in a year’s time and with enough stories to make the distance well worth it.

I want to ask her advice about my own shaky career path and what I will become and I want her to assure me in the way she always did that it will all work out how it is supposed to. I want to believe her.

I want her in our email chains and at our reunions and in our weddings.

I want her to turn 24.

I want her to turn 94.

I want to protect her from her fate.

I want to offer words of real comfort to those that ache for her with this same want.

I want to tell her that with just a light push from her fingertips she can move the world, and I want to be there when it happens.

I want to understand the unpredictable path of death and why it leads where it does, and I want to change its course.

I want to wake up tomorrow and have this all be over, a mere test of our endurance, nothing more.

I want her realness to come not from the words written here but from the beat of her own heart.

I want to have never seen her father give a eulogy at her funeral, her boyfriend to have carried her casket, my friends to have been rocked by a sorrow so strong it broke our backs and crashed us into each other.

I want Trisha back. I want her here. I want her among the living.

I want.

April 20, 2009

Function Over Form

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:43 pm by jlp412

A friend shared an unusual metaphor with me for how she copes with loss – she cements the memory of the missing person into a household tool or appliance, and finds comfort in “function over form.” A coffee pot, a tape measure, a food processor each suddenly take on the lives and embody the memories of those whose physical selves have left this world. Imagine if Trisha were to metamorphisize into a household object – she would be…

An orange squeezer, draining the juice from the center of the fruit and discarding the parts that don’t matter.

A feather duster, polishing the layer of grime from the objects it touches, tickling them lightly and showing off the shining surfaces that were once buried beneath the dust.

A tea kettle, whistling with warm water to coat a sore throat.

A soft shaggy rug whose floppy fibers cover bare toes.

A sunken couch cushion that molds to fit the body settling into it with a sigh of exhaustion.

A magenta washcloth. Dangly gold earrings. A light blue colored pencil. An Obama/Biden campaign poster. A warm pita spread with hummus.

I see Trisha in the long orchids atop my bookshelf and I smell her in my Vanilla Birthday Cake body wash and I feel her when I am on a long bike ride and a breeze rips up off the Potomac. I sense her as these words fly from my fingers. She is nowhere and yet she is everywhere.

Long before I knew Trisha would plan to study there, a friend from work brought me back a floppy red patchwork shoulder bag from Ghana when she helped run a conference in Accra on maternal and child health. I emailed an eager Trisha all of the information I could about the issue we worked to combat, about the types of people and organizations in-country we advocated for and collaborated with, about the father-mother support groups spreading knowledge to rural Ghanaians of the importance of exclusive breastfeeding. I poured stories into her malleable mind and instilled even more excitement in her as I spoke of this trip, as she planned her future study there.

The bag has been collecting dust on the top shelf of my closet. Tomorrow, I will take it down. And I will sling it over my shoulder and I will carry Trisha with me in its soft bright cloth and its knotted red strap and its large open pocket with the snap. She will cradle my keys and my lip gloss and my pb&j sandwich, and she will bounce lightly on my hip as I go about my day. And as I walk to work and to improv class and to the grocery store, as I fight the rain with a battered umbrella and as I drink a soy latte on a hot D.C. day, I will carry her over my shoulder. I will carry her with me.

Function over form.

April 19, 2009

One Month Ago Today

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:49 am by jlp412

trisha-st-pat_2

One month ago today, Trisha left us. For four weeks, 31 days and 744 hours, the world has been spinning on even though Trisha has not been in it. One month. That’s it. Nothing at all in the span of a life. We measure our lives in larger intervals – by the year, by the decade, by the milestone – not by the month. She’s only been gone one month now, but what happens when the length of time she’s been gone is greater than the time she was here with us? Will we stop marking her absence by months and start marking it by years?

As we move on and grow old, where will Trisha go? Will she always be stuck in our heads at 23, forever frozen with one foot off the ground ready to take on a journey she never had the chance to begin? Right now, her departure from this world is still so fresh, so new, that it’s no work at all to carry her with us each day and through each moment. But what happens when it’s not? How do we find that fine balance between never forgetting her and still living our lives the way we did before we had to surrender Trisha to mere memory? How do we begin to live again when every day that goes by is one more day we’re here without her?

I was at lunch last week with a friend, and we were talking about this very topic. While photos and emails and texts are a great comfort in preserving moments of her, real and as they were, we realized there are very few recordings of Trisha’s voice, of the way she sounded. We stop taking home videos when we’re old enough to be considered adults. We don’t ever think we’ll need to remember the way we sound, because we don’t ever think of our voices as parts of us with the potential to be forever silenced. We don’t ever imagine. Until it happens. When it happens, we’re forced into satisfaction by an accidental movie Trisha took when trying to photograph her dog Buster, where she can be heard mumbling with confusion for filming rather than taking a snapshot her dog. A movie that was never meant to be taken, a movie that in life we would have laughed off and erased, we now cling to as proof, as a way for the sound of her to seep through our ears and replay just as it was, so that we never forget it.

And what about the moments not caught on film? What about the phone conversations? The late night soul-sharing sessions? The silly stupid moments we took for granted when they happened – a walk to class, catching up over breakfast, a morning jog – that we can’t replay and relive, will never be fully remembered. So much of Trisha lived outside of what we can capture, and we’re left with our own faulty memories to try and piece these parts of her together bit by bit.

It’s been one month without Trisha, and yet it’s almost impossible for me to remember who I was and where my thoughts took me one month and one day ago, before we knew. Before she left. Before.

One month. Four weeks. Thirty-one days. Seven hundred and forty-four hours.

One life. Twenty-three years. Too many minutes robbed of their ticking. Hundreds of questions and thousands of milestones and millions of moments left unasked, unachieved and unlived.

But it’s been one month and we’re still here. One month and I’m still writing. One month and we still remember, we still mourn her, and our hearts still beat. One month and Trisha is still gone, but it’s also one month toward the journey, the tribute, the honor to live and do and be better because of her. One month.

April 16, 2009

When

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:49 pm by jlp412

I’ve been told that as new days come and go it gets easier, that time will soften the blow of her loss, that after a while my hunger for her will dull. When?

I know there will be a day when the stories now so freshly recollected will grow rusty with age, and her voice won’t resound in my head and her smile will be smudged with distance as I think of her. When?

When will I stop finding words to write here? When will I stop casting anchors into the flesh of my friends to keep them near to me all of the time? When will I stop missing her? When will I stop stuffing every minute of every day full of distractions, and when will sleep finally take hold of me through the night?

Just when I think I’ve found a new way to talk about Trisha, longing chokes my words. And when I find myself in awe of all she meant to all she knew, I want her back to give even more of herself. When I express gratitude for the new joys she’s given me – a discovered friendship, a delight in the ordinary, an inclination to make each day stretch a little bit farther – I still wish I could trade them for her instead.

I handle my minutes with a gentler hand, dropping them into the hours that form the days that will soon make a month that Trisha’s been gone, and when I plop them from one day into the next, I try harder not to break them. They are so fragile.

When will I be able to swallow the sadness up and stash it somewhere for safekeeping, instead of dripping it into my bloodstream from the IV bags little by little? When will I be able to spend a night with my friends who knew her without being swallowed up by the hole she’s left behind? When will my thoughts stop turning to her, when will she transform from my friend Trisha to my friend who died? When?

I know a day will come when she will still be gone and I will be okay.

When?

April 15, 2009

Heartbeat

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:32 am by jlp412

You eat a Double Cheeseburger. You compete in an Iron Man competition. You drink red bull and vodka. You bungee jump. You clog your arteries with cholesterol and you push your body past its limits and still your heart beats on. Why?

My heartbeat is constant affirmation that I am alive. Sometimes it races with anticipation and sometimes it flutters with nerves. Sometimes I push it with an uphill bike ride or a jaunt up the escalator at the Rosslyn metro station, and sometimes I let it sit at its resting rate as I watch mindless television and eat cherry chocolate chip ice cream out of the carton.

But no matter what, it beats.

Since the loss of Trisha, I’ve had moments when I fill up with such sudden waves of longing for her that my heart actually burns, even if just long enough for me to swallow hard and finish my sentence before the beat skips for a second or two and then resumes its normal cadence again as if nothing happened.

So this is loss.

I think we’ve all already surrendered fragments of our hearts here and there to Trisha, thrusting them forward with our hands as they twitch there exposed in our open palms, bleeding and yet beating still.

A heartbeat is what separates me from Trisha – hers has stopped and mine has not. What is it that keeps mine going during my darkest days, and what has silenced hers when she had so many beats still left to live through?

Thump THUMP. Thump THUMP.

It’s like a metronome, beating on even when we try to strain its pumping power with unhealthy diets, when we stretch the limits of its pulse with drugs and alcohol and stress. It beats on through graduations and promotions and bus rides and phone calls and birthdays. It beats still when we sleep, when we undergo surgery, when we fly in airplanes and jump from airplanes and swim in the ocean and read the newspaper. It beats us through break-ups and job loss and divorce and disease.

It beats for me even when I pummel my heart with my fists, when I rattle it in the cage of my ribs and when I try to rip it out with my own hands and throw it at the wind in protest of its stamina, of its endurance of things which the rest of me cannot seem to overcome so easily.

I go for a run along the Potomac and it beats. I lose another night of sleep and it beats. I take the trash out. Beat. I file my taxes. Beat. I question the meaning and I rejoice in the ordinary and I reconnect with some and distance myself from others and I even try to imagine what I would feel if it stopped. Still it beats on.

I wage a war with my heartbeat, challenging it, testing its capacity – can it switch hosts and try thumping instead for Trisha, just long enough to rev hers back up again, like a jumper cable revives a dead car battery? My heartbeat is defiant – it is trapped in my chest and is pumping my blood and is pushing me forward into the days ahead.

With Trisha and without her, my heart beats. Yet I can’t help but notice that its rhythm feels a little different and its surface is scratched with the fine lines of loss, and when I breathe in I feel the tight pull from the parts I’ve sliced out. It has learned to beat despite all of this, and I am living on just the same.

Thump THUMP. Thump THUMP.

April 12, 2009

A Dream

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:52 pm by jlp412

Last night I dreamt of Trisha, as I have many nights before. But this dream was so real my heart raced me awake prematurely – I awoke with a gasp and flung my arms wildly at my alarm clock and was jostled from sleep into the biting realness of morning. Before I completely climbed out of the world of my dream and still lay nestled inside of it, I actually thought Trisha was alive. Had you asked me in that moment if this were true, I would have affirmed it with as much certainty as my own name. It only took me a heartbeat to shake the thought from my head, but during its brief stay there, it settled into the deepest form of comfort I’ve had since the day she died. I wish I could pull out that feeling and wash my face with it and slip my feet into it and burrow under it before I go to sleep tonight. I want to capture that feeling again, now, all of the time, because I wish it were true.

In my dream, (which I think is an affirmation that I am watching and internalizing far too much Lost), there were a group of us gathered together in a window-lined dining room of a high-rise mansion of some sort – there were hardwood floors and warm yellow walls and faceless crowds of noisy people bustling about as if at a party. It was the night after Trisha died. Only somehow, in the illogical way only a dream can justify, Trisha was with us again. You see, in my dream, we got to go back one day and relive the night she died, but we could change the outcome.

In the imagined world of my dream, it was not a car but a violent descent out a window that took her. And in the mere seconds we had left to countdown to the exact moment we knew – we had seen ourselves the night before – that she would leave us, we panicked. Would we actually be able to stop it, her death? How could we save her if she was already dead? Could we change the outcome or would the strange rulebook of the dream prevent us from altering what ended up being a destiny none of us could have ever predicted? Even in my dream, our Northwestern tendencies persisted; to rationalize and problem-solve and use logic to remedy the illogical. As we frantically scrambled to come to consensus, losing more minutes all the while, Trisha just watched us, trembling, wide-eyed and terrified in the face of a death she knew was coming. She begged for us to stop it.

In my dream, we did.

Whatever force had flung her from the window in my dream came again crashing through in a violent rush of orange and white, at the exact time and in the exact way we knew it would. But this time, our arms grabbed her waist and pulled her out of its path as it shattered past us through the glass of the high-rise window and fell tumbling eighteen stories to the ground, without taking Trisha with it. For a brief moment, we rejoiced – we wept, we hugged her, we danced together, defiant of death and in disbelief of our incredible victory. We had Trisha back. We had saved her. We had changed her fate, altered the past and forever improved the future. She was still alive.

Then, in that hazy and nonsensical way dreams do, the scene transitioned and the crowd of loved ones left and it was just Trisha and me alone in the large room. We soon found ourselves again fighting for her life: a rabid wolf bounded out of nowhere, lunging at her with its snarled teeth and razor claws. We ducked out of its way without a moment to spare. As soon as we caught out breaths, a drooling old woman approached us with a poisonous drink. Trisha reached for the cup, not knowing its contents would kill her. I knocked it from her hand before the liquid reached her lips. I am sure there are more of death’s disguises we fought off together that I am forgetting now in the blurred remembering.

All I could do to protect her was close my arms around her like a cage, her face buried in my chest, her head tucked just under my chin, rocking her and cooing that everything would be okay even though I knew it wouldn’t. I touched the thickness of her long black hair. I felt her body warm against mine as I held her close. I saw into her eyes like they were staring at me from across the room rather than across the chasm between the living and the dead.

And all the while as I fought for her, I knew I was losing. I knew that nothing I could do would stop her fate from barreling through the room and roll her like a tumbleweed out of this world.

The image I awoke with, hanging in front of me like a painting, was Trisha in her red cotton sundress, the one with the flecks of white and blue she always wore in spring and summer. Yet instead of her usual smile, she was stricken with a look I had never seen her wear during her life – terror. It seemed strange and unsettling to see her this way – her eyes large and round and pleading, her mouth drawn into a tight line, weighted with the knowledge that she never had – that none of us ever really have – that she was about to die.

And then I woke up. And I knew I had failed. But going through the act of fighting for her, getting the chance to relive and try to fix the night she was taken from us and still not being able to stop her death, was also strangely comforting. I think we’ve all tried to replay every millisecond of the accident – what if I had called her one minute before? What if there had been a concrete median there instead of just grass? What if the other side of the highway had been empty of cars? What if she had decided to change the radio station or eat a snack or stop for gas or switch to another lane instead of veer into her death?

The combination of circumstances that caused her to die are so infuriatingly specific, so beyond any one thing any one of us could have done differently, that it leaves us tormented and dissatisfied. We can’t fix it. We are left replaying the series of mini moments that caused her car to do what it did exactly when it did. And when we scream the question “Why?” we are left only with silence.

What if we all had red-inked stamps on our foreheads with the date and time of our predetermined deaths, and we walked around the world and we could see them on each other, on ourselves? Would we fill our days and give our love the same way to the same people? Would we really live at all if we knew exactly when everyone we touched would leave us, when we ourselves would leave this world?

In my dream, I think Trisha haunted me so much because she was burdened with the knowledge of her death – she knew exactly how and when she would die; she saw the stamp. But thankfully, in her life, she didn’t. Like the poem I recently posted says, it is a fearful thing to love what death has touched. But imagine if we had known death would touch Trisha all along and were helpless to stop it, like in my dream. How much better to have loved as richly as we did, to be blind to the ink on our foreheads, on hers. Had we known we would lose Trisha when we did, would we have chosen to protect our hearts and not love her at all?

I would rather have the dream be the dream, and know that when we had her, she was ours, without the taint of knowing we would lose her too soon. I would rather have the ink be invisible so we can go on living the way we need to, especially now, for her. I would rather find her in new friendships and feel her as I inhale and see her in familiar landmarks and photos and relive her in rehashed memories.

I would rather have the dream be the dream.

April 10, 2009

An Obituary

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:27 am by jlp412

Northwestern’s paper published a story on Trisha. While well-written, it is difficult for me to read something so finite and fact-based about the hugeness of her impact. It seems strange to distill who she was and what the remnants of her still are for all of us into such a rigid forum. It prompted me to write this obituary in my own words in my own way.

Trisha Apte

July 10, 1985 – March 19, 2009

Wanted: A reason. Someone or something to blame. Sound sleep. One more “Don’t Stop Believin'” jam session.

Missing: Any words that can make it better, including those written here. Justice. Her laugh. One volunteer for the International Center for Research on Women in India. One Rotary International scholar. One public health graduate student at the University of Ghana. One mover of the world.

Survivors: Anyone who ever knew her. All of us.

Taken: A heartbeat. Getting married. Growing old. Two thirds of a life. For some of us, faith. For others, trust or confidence or courage. Breath. Pieces of us – a patch of a heart here, a corner of a memory there, a slice through the soul. Stress over what doesn’t matter and ignorance of what does. Protection from loss.

Given: Days that have color and days that don’t. A Foundation. A half marathon. Reconnections and new connections. Kaleidoscope-shaken perspectives. Fresh breaths and strengthened heartbeats. A gratitude so rich it’s sometimes too much to taste. A reason to do more, act now, be here. An undercurrent of her, humming beneath the days still to come. A punch in the gut. A comfort.

Left behind: Holes that sometimes stretch and can sometimes be sewn back up. Unused plane tickets for trips around the world. Texts and posts and emails and photos. Her parents and her sister and her boyfriend. The places she never went and the people she never met and the parts of herself she had not yet discovered or defined. Eager hands that want to touch and lips that want to kiss and words that want to be said that grasp now only at air. The living.

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