September 14, 2009

And I Will Be There For All of This…

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:04 pm by jlp412

Power Hour 029

“And I will be there for all of this…”

Trisha spoke these words during the end of a speech she gave at her sister’s wedding a few years ago, the video of which was recently posted to her memorial Web site. I watch this video as if my eyes searing into the computer screen can bring her back to me, as if the intent of my gaze alone can extract her in tiny pixilations from a recorded video and transform her somehow into a physical person. This is the first video of Trisha that her family has shared with us, their generosity so thirst-quenching and limitless that I suspect I will be drinking it for the rest of my life.

This is the first time I have seen Trisha speak since she was alive. The video dangled death in front of me like one taunts a kitten with a ball of yarn only to watch it paw playfully and tug at it in senseless distraction: I kept fumbling to hold onto death as it hung midair just out of my grasp, I reached for it to cling to it because as much as I fear and loathe it, I know it to be true, and I wanted confirmation. After watching Trisha so alive, speaking and laughing and sharing the bond she had with her sister, I needed to know death was still there, that it still trumped the tricks my heart was playing on me. I needed its voice to be louder than Trisha’s, which seemed to scream, “I am alive!” even though I know she is not. I find I still paw dumbly at death, not entirely convinced that the friend I watch toasting to her sister’s happiness is not just a continent away living out her journey.

I watched the video upon returning from Chicago last night, much like an addict retreats to a drug he knows is the source of both temporary ecstasy and cyclical ruin: I knew watching it would be both comforting and painful, I knew it would be the first of hundreds of times I will turn to it for a quick fix of Trisha, but I also knew it would leave me constantly dissatisfied and tormented, twitching with longing for the real thing. I knew the high of hearing her voice and watching her move and speak and laugh would abandon me soon enough and leave me in withdrawal, aching desperately for the flesh and sound and touch of her.

Team Trisha pride

Watching her speech last night, fresh from the heels of the Chicago Half Marathon and a weekend of celebrating her life and legacy with some of her family and friends I had not seen in years and some I had never met before, I felt the gut-grasping twinge of loss creeping up through my toes and settling into the core of me, much like it did last March during the midnight call that placed a weight in my ribcage so heavy it pulled me in an instant straight to the ground, where I stayed for many weeks in mourning, where I find myself retreating sometimes still, where I dwell tonight as I write the words written here.

The words that stuck in my mind with the most persistence from Trisha’s speech are the ones I wrote at the top of this posting, “And I will be there for all of this…”

It’s ironic in a way, because throughout the entire weekend in Chicago, Trisha was there for all of it:

She hovered above us Friday night when we dragged our travel-logged selves out to a celebrate Gemma’s 24th birthday, the one Trisha never got to live to see, and she had a beer with us and caught up on the new jobs, graduations and boyfriends of the last couple of years since we’d last seen each other.

She was there when we ate eggs and bagels at Katie’s apartment in Lincoln Park, watching the Wildcats nearly surrender a winnable football game and prevail in their typical fashion during the last few seconds, and she cheered with us.

She was there when we all sat at dinner Saturday night and her parents reached somehow even deeper into themselves to distribute Team Trisha paraphernalia and honor those who raised money for her memorial fund and those who painted posters for first-time runners and those who gave their hearts and time and money in other ways these past six months, and she thanked them.

She was there when her friends from middle school in Hong Kong met her friends from high school at Exeter and ran with her friends from college at Northwestern, and she was there when her cousins and aunts and uncles and sister and parents took us into their family as their own, and she was proud.

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She was there when I fell down during the first two seconds of the run and scraped up my knees and laughed and ran on anyway, and she gave me a push forward.

She was there when some of us panted for breath and struggled to surmount injury and built up endurance to overcome mental barricades that we could not possibly finish this run, and she believed in us.

She was there when we cheered for one another with colorful posters along the course, and when we wore our purple shirts with the words, “Our lives are better because of her,” written along our backs, prompting strangers to ask who she was and why we are running for her, and she was humbled.

She was there when those of us who never would have put on a pair of running shoes in the first place ran 3 miles and 13 miles for her, and she was running with us in her bright pink shirt with her thumbs tucked into the sleeves, a smile on her face and an energy in her stride.

She was there as we vowed to do this again next year, and she will be there when we do.

She was there as we pumped our fists in the air for a group photo and she was there as we cried our way through the finish and as we surprised ourselves with the strength in our legs and the smiles on our faces.

Yesterday in Chicago, she was indeed, “there for all of this.”

Full Team Trisha after the Half

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1 Comment »

  1. […] past Sunday was the second annual Team Trisha Chicago Half Marathon and 5k. This year felt different, as it should have […]


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