January 24, 2010

Stilts

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:58 pm by jlp412

Imagine you’re a girl on ten mile stilts
You travel round the world, taking it all in
You’ll never touch the ground
Is it a blessing or a curse
And if you’re too high to be found
Are you lost or just rehearsed

Ten Mile Stilts by The Wailin’ Jennys

Today, this is how I imagine Trisha. She teeters above us, up high on her ten-mile-long stilts, as we dance and fall and rise and crawl beneath her. We reach clumsily for her long new legs as she balances there, a tiny dot bobbing high up above our heads. We are suddenly so small.

We search for megaphones so she can hear our cries. We seek out the tallest ladders we can find so we can try to climb up to her. In an act of desperation, we even try to pile on top of each other so she’ll trip over us and perhaps come crashing back down to earth. But her steps are measured. She does not falter.

She seems so close, almost touchable. It’s a tease – we see these long extensions of her legs, stepping around us and over us, without being able to see the person whose feet rest on top of them. When I dream of her now, she seems so real that I have to groggily remind myself she is gone when I wake up. And when I look at photos or videos now, I sometimes laugh aloud at one of her funny facial expressions, without the pang of knowing. I look at her in those photos like I look at the rest of us, all smashed into a school bus en route to a sorority formal, or decked out in purple and black at a sub-zero temperature football game, forgetting.

And then I remember:

Trisha’s feet will never touch the ground again. She will never be in another photo, never attain her graduate degree, never come back to D.C. to visit, never get married, never be there to assure the rest of us that our uncertain futures will turn out as they should, never get to live out a future of her own.

But I still see those stilts. And I try to follow them down whatever path they take, even though their strides are much longer than mine, because somehow, I know Trisha is up there, ten miles high, choosing each step.

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January 19, 2010

Ten Months Ago Today

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:54 pm by jlp412

Ten months ago today, Trisha was taken. Between the eighth and tenth months since we’ve lost her, my posts were less frequent, the words unsure of themselves, unwritten and unpublished, but not unthought.

The holidays came and went without her. We rang in a new year, I celebrated a 25th birthday. As we underwent these milestones, took part in yearly traditions with family and friends, shook off with a shudder the end of an awful year, it became harder and harder to convince ourselves that Trisha isn’t just actually in Ghana getting her MPH as she is supposed to be. And throughout the course of this strange trip of mourning her, I don’t know that I’ve ever been as much at a loss for words as I have been these last two months. Even during the more recent darker days, when I scraped the very bottom of my sadness, tearing off the sorrow and the fear and apathy in strips and absorbing them into myself, I could pour out words about it – I needed to, to trust that I’d get through it and come out the other side.

Now, words seem too trivial – do I write of resolutions made for the year to come, the one that Trisha will never know? Do I reflect on the year that’s been and how I’ve changed? This seems selfish. I am both excited and apprehensive about starting a fresh new year. I am inspired by Trisha’s friendship and by her death to make my life more meaningful in this next year, but I am also weighed down with the guilt of surviving into a 25th year, uncertain and unsteady as it may be, when Trisha will never get to.

Ten months after losing Trisha, I still think of her every day, but the way I think about her has changed. I still have the days where I see her as gone, lifeless, and the goosebumps come back and take me over for a moment, stop me from whatever task I am doing, and scramble my senses. But I find myself more often turning to her for guidance from afar, asking myself what she would think or say or do as I make career decisions and as I meet new people and as I spend a Saturday night on the dance floor among friends new and old.

I still ache for her, I still feel the waves of sadness that come with actively missing her. But I also find myself attempting to find new ways to need her and call on her for advice, encouragement and friendship. I think the act of living is an art, and through Trisha, I’ve gotten better at painting more colorful pictures. I may not know what the final product will look like – some days I feel like a Jackson Pollack and strive to be more defined and linear – but Trisha is teaching me how to hold the paintbrush and trust that whatever I end up with will be right for me.

Ten months ago today, I lost a sister, a friend, a part of myself. But I also gained gratitude, for each breath I inhale, for each friend who has been there as I struggle through this journey, for the reassessments I do more frequently of the meaning in each person and each activity I choose to include in my life. Ten months ago today, Trisha left us, but ten months later, she is still teaching us. And all I can do to remember her is to try and keep learning. And breathing. And thanking her.