February 19, 2010

Eleven Months Ago Today

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:09 pm by jlp412

 

Trisha has been gone for eleven months. As her ashes settle deeper into the soil, I have lived through a 25th birthday, run a half marathon, switched jobs, moved into a new part of town, connected with strangers who are now a core part of who I am, set the bar of my horizon a bit higher up, bought a bike and rode it 70 miles, performed in a few improv shows, began to pursue a new direction. Lived. Healed.

During these past eleven months, I have also been broken, I have opened my eyes and wished they’d stayed closed, I have cried with a sorrow that cracks through right to the core of my insides and I have heard the same sobs rock my friends across hundreds of miles, I have missed Trisha actively, consistently, every day for eleven months, I have questioned the why’s behind the daily chores of living, questioned what the difference is anyway, if at the end of the day people like Trisha can just leave you, no matter how much you love them, no matter how willing you are to split your skin open and pour out all of your innerworkings if only they could seep inside the skin of someone else. During these past eleven months, I have been lost. Given up hope. Surrendered control over the fate of those I love and lived in fear of who I would lose next.

Losing Trisha and living despite losing Trisha have taught me that just because you made it through one more day of putting one foot in front of the other doesn’t confirm your survival into the next day, or the one after that. And it certainly doesn’t have any bearing on the fate of the feet of the people who walk beside you during your daily journeys. No matter how skilled you are at walking on your own path with a purpose, you can’t defend the purpose of the paths of the people who walk next to you when it’s time, suddenly without reason, for their paths to end mid-journey.

On March 19, 2009, Trisha’s legs stopped walking. But eleven months to the day later,¬†somehow, my feet still take me places. So I’ll carry Trisha with me on my back, and I’ll show her what I see. Because I can’t scoop up enough dirt and pat it down fast enough to form a new path for her. All I can do is put one foot in front of the other, and carry her with me as I try to get wherever I’m going. And hope I end up somewhere she would want to see.

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February 7, 2010

In Honor Of

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:38 pm by jlp412

Soldiers die defending their country. They are given medals for their bravery, their families are given flags for their sacrifice and they give their lives for freedom.

The elderly die by succumbing to age, surrendering lives long-lived and well-traveled. Sometimes they leave this world as a result of disease, dementia, hospice or infection. Sometimes the loved one we bid goodbye to is not the same one we had known for all those years. But the elderly close their eyes on a story complete, if not difficult to read in its final pages.

Some people take risks every day, gambling their lives for a cause they deem worthy, a cutting-edge treatment that just might work, a love, a war. These people die “in honor of,” “in defense of” and “in love of” people, causes, ideas, feelings.

Others abandon their bodies when the pain of being ravaged by illness proves too much to bear. Some drift off into permanent sleep without even realizing their chests have stopped heaving. Sometimes we wish for the death of those we love, to ease their suffering, to restore them to a state of peace, to end a trying battle with a mental or physical illness, to stop the machine from controlling the air that keeps them breathing artificially.

Not so with Trisha. She vanished, just like that, only keeping us suspended for a few moments in the “what-if” of her potential survival. She died “in honor of” a life she was just starting to understand, a future she had just started to tentatively map out. She died “in love of” so many things and people – friends, a boyfriend, a family, an unyielding passion that propelled her out of a corporate job and into public service.

At her funeral, we didn’t thank her for her service to our country. But we did thank her for her service to its inhabitants – those she would have volunteered her time to help, those of us who she had already touched for 23 years just by being alive; all of us, the survivors.

What did Trisha die for? What is the reason? The meaning? The cause we are all supposed to dedicate our lives toward now that she’s gone? The one thing so great and unstoppable that it ended the life of someone who was just beginning to uncover its purpose?

There isn’t an answer. Trisha did not die for a reason. We cannot blame disease, age, a bet she made with her life that didn’t end on her side. Had she known where that Kentucky road would take her, she never would have driven on it in the first place.

So now, to honor her, I write. And scramble to gather up as many moments as I can and stuff them into as many hours of each day that I’m awake for and extract as much meaning out of them as I am able to and pour it all into my veins so the meaning flows through me and changes my heart’s rhythm.

Trisha did not die “in honor of” or because of anything. She died despite all the reasons why she shouldn’t have. We can’t trace any meaning or cause or sign to it. She died anyway.

So now, I live. In honor of Trisha.