November 19, 2009

Eight Months Ago Today

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:48 am by jlp412

Eight months ago today, Trisha took her last breath. For reasons the rest of us will spend the rest of our lives trying to comprehend, eight months ago today, the cord connecting Trisha to the center of the earth was snipped in half, sending her flailing wildly into the atmosphere. Eight months ago today, Trisha went from being a friend whose impending journey I bragged about to anyone who would listen to a friend whose too-soon departure from the living made her unaccomplished journey a tragedy.

Eight months into mourning Trisha, I find her loss twisting its way into what should be milestones, new beginnings, moments of connection, and corrupting them somehow. Apathy is a scary, scary thing, and her death has made me – a person of too much energy and passion for my own good – a habitual user of apathy for a quick fix of explanation. Apathy can be, I’ve found, more consuming than pure grief, and much more debilitating.

Eight months into missing Trisha, I don’t feel any more at peace with her loss, and I don’t feel that time has dulled my longing for her. I have no guidebook, no compass, for this strange trip I’m on, and I don’t like that at every turn there seems to be a new feeling lurking on the sidelines, ready to throw itself at my feet and trip me as I try to gain my footing.

Eight months ago today, I learned what it feels like to cut yourself open and rip out your own heart. And now, eight months later, I am starting to learn what it feels like to pump its beat back again, and I am trying to find the courage to ask others to squeeze it sometimes when Apathy threatens to stop my hands from trying.

Eight months ago today, I shook my first to the horizon and screamed, to no one in particular, “Why?

Eight months later, I’m still waiting for an answer.

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November 14, 2009

If I Could…

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:38 am by jlp412

If I could, I would take you away from this…

If I could scoop up your ashes from the bottom of the lakes of Chicago and pick them apart from the soil grains of where your family lives in India and blow through a wind strong enough to carry them up from every other crevice of this earth that they have blown to and settled in, I would create a tornado of the tiny particles of you, and make you whole again.

If I could plop you out of my mind and onto my couch for one last soul-sharing session, I would tell you I am scared, of turning 25, of wandering onto the right path to follow for the rest of my days, of finding someone to walk beside me with a map and a sense of humor. I would tell you I am grateful, to be living in the nation’s capital among new friends freshly plucked since college, to be working at a place I love on an issue I have come to care deeply about. I would tell you how good it is to see you, how proud I am of your fellowship, of your study in Ghana. I would ask of your own fears and joys, inquire about who you love and who you want to become. I would make you some tea and cover our legs with my purple fleece Northwestern blanket, and then I would hug you and send you with reluctance on your way.

If I could unstick your pictures from the scrapbook I’m making, I would collage them together one by one, another tattered tapestry of your incomplete life, if it meant you could add in the missing pieces of the moments still to come.

If I could, I would throw away two or three boxes’ worth of your Chicago belongings so you’d have enough room in one car to pack your things before you travel to Atlanta. Or I would call you last March 19, five minutes or one minute before time decided to make you unreachable for the rest of its duration. Or I would drive you there myself, chattering away all the while about the many people you had mapped out to visit, playing stupid road trip games, listening to old CD mixes.

If I could, I would pry open your eyes just to shake you awake and show you all you’ve done through who you’ve known here. A fundraiser happy hour was held for you in New York last night. You were memorialized in Northwestern’s magazine. Every day, that jar of voices I sent you becomes more and more full of stories told of you here and gone. If I could, I would show you just how much you’ve done.

If I could, I would tie your wrists to your bed in Chicago so you would not leave that day.

If I could, I would unbreak your bones and unstop your heart.

If I could, I would vacuum up every conversation we’ve ever had and store them away in hundreds of brimming bags, pulled taut with their words, and I would listen to one of them each night for the rest of my life.

If I could, I would take you away from this…

If I could, I would save you.

November 2, 2009

A Letter, Part 3

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:12 am by jlp412

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Dear Trisha,

I’ve written you two letters since you left – one just weeks after your death and one about a month after. They were letters bearing gifts, frantic efforts of affirmation that you were somewhere where you could receive them. Back then, still reeling from the rawness of your abrupt departure, I didn’t need anything from you. I just needed to believe that I could send you things, things like jars of voices telling stories of your life and patchwork hearts scribbled with names of those you’ve touched. I needed to give you things, Trisha, because I felt robbed of the chance to give them to you when you were here, and I didn’t need you to respond, I didn’t even need you to confirm that you received the things I sent. I just needed to send them.

Now, I need you to give me something.

It’s been almost eight months and somehow you’re still gone. Everything is chaos now, Trisha. My metaphors for you do me no good, the shipping address I used to send you my two previous letters is missing and I can’t find it anywhere, because secretly I am uncertain if it really exists, and the fear that it doesn’t stops me from looking too long for it. We’re all reacting in different ways and in different places in our journeys to mourn you now, and that just makes it more confusing – we cry at parties when we should be laughing and we lie awake on nights when we should be sleeping and we stop new relationships we should be starting because they are beginning after you have ended.

We’re replaying otherwise innocuous moments that are now laden with meaning – about the last time we all saw you, about the night we called each other to say that you were gone, about your funeral. And we’re scared, Trisha, of so many things – scared we’ll forget this feeling of missing you, scared we’ll lose more friends along the course of our lives as we age, scared your meaning and your importance will somehow fade as the years increase that we’ve been alive without you. Scared you’re out there somewhere. Scared you’re not.

So I need you to give me something. And when I say “me,” I really mean all of us, since we all seem to need slightly different things from you right now. I hate to ask it, Trisha, and to be honest, I tremble as I type it because what if you can’t do it? What if what I ask is impossible? Does that mean you’re not getting any of my letters at all? I don’t know, but I have to ask it anyway, because I can’t seem to give myself what I need during this part of missing you.

I find myself retreating to the days last March with a strange longing – I want to be ravaged and consumed again by the emotion of having just lost you, because the emptiness and sadness I feel now would be best expressed in the torrential cries and explosions of emotions I felt then. It’s more real that way – that level of anger, of grief, mirrors what it’s like to live in a world you don’t. But – for good reason – I don’t react that way anymore every day. I can’t and I know I shouldn’t. But I want to. Because this muted, strange acceptance is so much worse. I feel like I’m not giving you enough. I need to feel, Trisha, and I don’t know what to feel anymore.

That is where you come in. I don’t need what others need right now – some need you to start appearing in their dreams, and different dreams mean different things for different people, so you will have to alter your appearances accordingly. When I first dreamt of you, you were terrified because you knew you were going to die, and I tried and failed many times to stop it, to save you, but I couldn’t. In my dreams, though, then, I needed to try, and I needed to fail. I needed to know that I didn’t cause your death, that I couldn’t have stopped it even had I known it was coming. Some of us need that now, too. And others of us need something a little trickier – they need a sign, an unexplained in-this-life, tangible sign that you are okay. I recognize this is tricky, but I have faith you can find a way to provide that to the ones who need it, and that they will have the patience to wait until you can show them.

But I need something stranger even than that. I wrote in a recent post that I struggle sometimes between lifting you above me for guidance and pinning you down with the weight of my grief. A friend responded by telling me that I should try to rest my burden a bit and let you walk beside me instead. As soon as I read her words I realized that is what I need you to do. I need you to help me navigate new relationships with people who are meeting me after you left my life. I need to feel you somehow, Trisha, and I don’t know if that will come in the form of a sign or a dream or just a new something in my life. But I need you to walk beside me. I’m getting lost now walking alone. I need to feel you next to me as I go, even if I can’t reach out to grab your hand. I need somehow to know you’re there anyway – you can decide how to show me. I just need to know you’re there. I need you to walk beside me.

My love to you wherever you are,

Jamie