July 19, 2009

Four Months Ago Today

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:09 pm by jlp412

angira trisha wedding_2

On the 19th of each month, I’m reminded.

On the 19th of each month, I am one month older, one month fuller of holes, one month more alive.

On the 19th of each month, Trisha is still gone, the life of her tucked away 30 days deeper into the past.

On the 19th of each month, the weight of the loss of her sits on my chest like a stone and cuts short my breath.

On the 19th of each month, I’m reminded.

In the past four months, so much of my life has remained the same routine I’ve set in motion for myself: I eat the same spinach salad for lunch, I travel the same commute to and from work across the Key Bridge, I eat sushi at the same local establishment in Georgetown that has become a weekly post-work tradition, I go to the same local bars and watch the same television shows.

But beneath these routines is a new rhythm, a daily and sometimes several times a day missed note, off-kilter step, that is Trisha’s death. I brush my teeth and remember her funeral. I ride the 38B home from work and am shaken with a flash of her so real I forget for a moment that she’s gone. I spend the fourth of July with my best friends and sit where she sat and lay on the same dock she sunbathed on last summer and her absence cuts into the air around me. I check Facebook for a daily dose of mindless status updates and come upon new photos of her as a rolly polly baby, beaming fearlessly into the camera, her face awash in the same joy she kept there 23 years later. She is nowhere and yet she is everywhere.

The last four months carry so many of the same things the last 24 years have, but it’s like every experience I have now has a lurking layer of meaning poking out from beneath it, like I’m chipping away the dry paint of parts of my life I used to see as they were, and I’m finding behind them a wallpaper whose print and color has changed the way I look at the world.

I get a cavity filled and think of Trisha getting her appendix removed and wonder why we take such time and spend so much money to preserve these tiny parts of our health that in the end don’t matter anyway. I go to lunch with a friend and I listen harder, I pick apart pieces of the words we exchange and keep some of them with me longer, so I can grow closer sooner, so no moment is wasted. I am less content to settle just because it’s comfortable, whether in a relationship or a job or training for the bike race and half marathon. I try to act instead of lament, I try to return calls sooner so potential last words don’t remain unspoken, I try to live better since I have learned there is no logic to death and who it strikes when.

Four months ago today, Trisha may have left the living, but four months ago today, Trisha started to settle into parts of my life she did not know before – she is there when I walk home from the grocery store with bulky canvas bags smacking against my legs, she is there when I let myself be dragged out dancing against my will because she would have been pulling my other hand away from the metro taking me home and into the bar where an amazing time replaced forgettable sleep, and she pushes me to ask myself who I am and what I want and how I get there when it would be easier not to wonder.

On the 19th of every month for the rest of my life, my thoughts will land on Trisha. She continues to lay down the stones that form the path my feet stumble upon as I move on my way into whatever the place is I am supposed to end up.

On the 19th of each month, I remember.


July 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Trisha

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:08 pm by jlp412

trisha bday cake

Dearest Trisha,

Today, you should be alive and celebrating your 24th birthday. Instead, today, your beautiful memorial Web site launched as an ongoing tribute to you; an attempt, like this blog, to preserve parts of your spirit. Today, your still-lasting death has forever branded the day of your birth.

Tonight, friends of yours in Chicago will gather on your beloved Lakefill rock on NU’s campus and stay up to watch the sunrise, remembering you. Tonight, your boyfriend joins your family in Atlanta as seamlessly as if he’d grown up in your household. Tonight, some of us will gather in D.C. and toast to you. And miss you.

Tonight, dear Trisha, time ticks on and your birthday will come and go even though you aren’t here to commemorate it.  How the world will miss you marking your birthdays with milestones.

For your birthday, the gifts I really want to get you are selfish, and impossible: I want to throw up a rope and hook it on a cloud and climb up and up and up until I reach you and I want to carry you on my back until we reach the rope’s end and your feet land firmly on the ground. I want to float these words on the back of the wind until they reach you, until they settle into your heart, and I want them to revive its beat again. I want to freeze frame the times I had with you and replay them now, especially now, when I linger on your name and number in my phone and know you won’t be there to answer my call, because I never want to forget any part of you.

But I cannot give you any of these things. All I can give you are parts of myself, touched by traces of you:

I can give you my feet, which pound the pavement hard as they run a little bit longer each day in preparation of the half marathon for you in September.

I can give you my hands, which type the words I write here to try and capture who you are and why you matter.

I can give you my eyes, which seem to see the world anew ever since you taught me that no single moment should ever pass without some meaning in it.

I can give you my friends, those you know and those you don’t, who are bonded ever closer because you taught us how to be.

And finally, Trisha, I can give you days yet to unfold in the future I somehow get to fulfill even though you don’t, days that will be full of more color, less holes, and more purpose because of you, because you lived and because you died and because I miss you so much that I can’t stand the idea of losing you to recollection only.

I give you the gift of not being stuck in past tense, if you can settle for living in the future through the lens of a guide who is often unsure of her footing as she tries to find her way in this world. I will try not to get us lost, but maybe for my birthday, you should get us a compass.

Happy birthday, Trisha.



July 8, 2009

I Can

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:25 pm by jlp412

I can trace with my fingertips the space that now takes the place of her. I can snapshot and freeze frame with my eyes the places she last was, alive, as other bodies sit and sleep and breathe there now instead of hers. I can be with my ridiculous, endearingly eclectic friends, and I can try to talk over the blaring silence between us that should be her voice, but her vacancy still ruptures my eardrums.  I can ride in a car and arrive at my destination unscathed, but I can’t ever get into one without visualizing the battered ending of the last ride she took. I can dream of her, hear her voice and her laugh so clearly it’s as if she’s right beside me, but I always awaken, confounded by her disappearance.

I can replay over and over our last encounter, try to revisit the details: Was I too distracted? Did I give enough attention to her stories, did I pause long enough from the rush of my life to take hers in before it left this world? Did I tell her I was proud of the person she was, that I was eagerly anticipating the one she was soon to become, and that I was in awe of the courage it took for her to make the journey? Did I step out of myself long enough to look her in the eye, hug her hard, tell her I loved her and say goodbye?

I can blink and swallow and stretch and run and laugh and sleep. Trisha cannot do these things.

I can breathe even though she can’t.

I can be. She cannot.

I can wonder why as often as I inhale and I can never seem to uncover an answer that satisfies me. I can try to piece her together through pictures posted and stories spoken and words written, but I always seem to come up with mere fragments of her.

I cannot touch her. I cannot laugh until I cry with her, as I did last weekend with friends who were gathered together with her a year ago, just a year ago, in the same place at the same time.

I cannot seem to find the meaning in her death, but I can stumble on in search of it. I cannot understand how to be without her here, and yet I can find ways, it seems, to live without her living. I cannot seem to stretch high enough to reach the place where she is, but I can try.

I can try.