May 4, 2009

Protection

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:11 pm by jlp412

I couldn’t protect Trisha from her fate. None of us could. We just had her among us for a while, wandering around unknowing as the breaths she took and people she met and days she lived through came to a screeching halt on the then-innocuous date of March 19. None of our bodies would have been strong enough to keep her car from crossing over to the other side of the highway, even if we piled ourselves into a sloppy human barricade. None of our arms could have reached far enough down to grab her and pull her out of the car before it crashed her into the end of her life too soon. None of our voices, even if shouted in unison from every continent where her friends and family are sprinkled now, could have warned her loudly enough to stop her. We were helpless and ignorant and assuming. We could not protect her.

Now, I find I want to protect everyone I love from any harm – I want to smother them and strap them to their chairs and keep them from going anywhere and doing anything that could hurt them. Because I am porous now, full of holes where this type of sudden loss can seep in slowly when I’m not looking and confuse my heart into pumping it instead of blood.

I have one friend traveling abroad for six weeks for work and another making a cross-country roadtrip in advance of a summer internship. I am thrilled for them, excited for them to start these journeys and experience the destinations they lead to. But I am terrified they won’t make it there. The circumstances that caused Trisha’s death were so painstakingly specific that any slight alteration of any one of them – had she sneezed right before, had the car she hit been just one foot in front of where it was on the road, had there been a concrete barrier instead of an open space dividing the two opposing sides of the highway – she might still be with us. It’s infuriating. And to think of these other two people who are so close to me just catapulting unfettered into the world to begin these journeys is eerily reminiscent of saying goodbye to Trisha before she started hers. I want to shackle their feet and keep them here. It’s safer.

I know protection and inhibition are two different things, and that I can’t exchange one for the other. I wish there was a limit to loss, a rationed-out supply to go around, and that I’ve already reached my maximum allotted amount in losing Trisha. But there are people whose loss comes in buckets for every cup of it I drink, and there are people who maybe in their entire lifetimes just taste a tiny droplet of it on the tips of their tongues. I don’t want the taste of Trisha’s loss to prevent me from drinking in the results of my own journey, stumbles and all, and I don’t want it to grip me into such fear that I can’t celebrate the unfolding stories my two friends are about to tell as they begin theirs.

But how can I say goodbye to them with the expectation that it’s not the last word they’ll hear me say? How can I assume their journeys will have a start and a middle and an end, and that they will be there to walk me through them when they return?

I couldn’t protect Trisha. None of us could. Now I want to protect everything I touch, everything I see. We’re all so breakable. We need protecting.

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1 Comment »

  1. mom said,

    Jamie,
    It is early morning on Mother’s Day and I miss you. I have just read your blog and I am thinking of Trisha’s mom and wishing her peace and knowing it probably will not come easily, and my heart is so filled for her. Protection. Interesting word. One that anyone who loves someone uses each and everyday. That is what parents want more than anything. To protect. It keeps us up at night until we hear the lock of the door and know our children are home safely. (take a cab!) Yet….I am reminded of butterflies. If we hold a butterfly tight in our hands in order to protect it from the world it will surely die. We must let it rest on our open palm, knowing how fragile it is and let it fly. So it is with those we love. Trisha’s parents could have said no to her travels. They could have forbidden her to follow her passions, thus closing their “fists” around her, keeping her safe. But she would have died inside. Protection. We want to keep a bubble around those we love to make sure they are always safe, but that is not a life. Trisha had a life she loved. Every single day. Her parents gave her the greatest gift a parent can give. They did protect her, by allowing her to be the person she was. So did you. Say good bye to your friends as they pursue their life, and protect them with your love and support. Do not be afraid they will not return. Be proud to share their journey.
    I love you.
    Mom


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