March 19, 2010

One Year Ago Today

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:55 pm by jlp412

I delayed writing this entry as long as I could in the hopes that putting it off would somehow make today just another day, that it would matter less, that Trisha has not been gone a whole year. I don’t want to focus on today as the way I remember her, because a year ago today was the hardest, darkest day, a day when the world stopped making sense and everything came crashing to a screeching halt and we all grew up too fast with one midnight phone call. One year ago today, Trisha was ripped away from us as we stood by helplessly reaching for her, grabbing onto each other, trying to make sense of why she left and how we could still be standing here even though she did.

This week, I finished the scrapbook that preserves the parts of her we can capture in photos and in writing, sticking random quotes and pieces of colorful paper onto pages of warm pinks and greens and golds, including testimonies from total strangers who were inspired enough to run the half marathon last year even though they had only heard of her impact, adding in portraits that chronicled her childhood and her college years and her brief ascent into adulthood, laying out her legacy in the foundation set up forever in her honor, freezing her in time and gluing pieces of her into the scrapbook’s pages to try to keep her here in another form. The caption under the cover picture, which came included on the scrapbook itself, says simply, “Beautiful life.” And compiling all of the contents for the book over the last year made me realize just how beautiful it was.

This week, I filled every millisecond with activity, distractions, dinners and drinks and jam-packed work days, as if the more hours I filled up each day with, the further this one would be pushed away until it fell right off the calendar.  This week, a few of us had dinner with her gentle-souled father and renewed our commitment to run the half marathon again next fall in Chicago. In him, we were reminded of Trisha’s kindness, her gusto for all life had to offer, her patience with all of us as we navigated clumsily in the search of who we were and where we were going.

Tonight, her sister and a few other friends got together in DC for a home-cooked meal, memory-sharing, new story-telling, laughter and just plain companionship. We didn’t need to talk about this day last year, we didn’t need to walk ourselves through the mess of tangled insides we all felt then, how we scrambled to find flights to Atlanta for the funeral, how we stared blankly into the air in front of us, at the floor, anywhere but at each other’s faces, for fear of seeing the loss of Trisha splashed all over ourselves.

Instead, tonight, we laughed. We strengthened our own connections to each other and remembered her and said silent gratitude for having this network of what has become a new blended family of those of us who were touched by her and then had her taken from us. I see Trisha’s smile when her sister smiles and hear her laugh when her sister laughs at one of our stupid silly stories that Trisha would have found hilarious. I remember her more and more as we share new and old stories again and again, and I give thanks for the friendship she still weaves through all of us now, all of us, who, this time last year, were more strangers than friends. We are forever connected now. Pushed together by Trisha’s hands.

This entry does not have more meaning than any of the others. It does not package up the journey we’ve all been on this past year and outline a hopeful path toward progress. It does not have an answer for why Trisha left or where she went or how we’ve all managed to stand upright again.

But it does have hope.

Tonight, one year to the day after Trisha left, we’re all still here. Between occasional moments of single silence where one of us slips off to think about her, to miss her, to feel guilty for being here without her, there is new laughter, there is less fear and more eagerness to talk about her, there is more desire to know more parts of her from pieces of her life the rest of us weren’t there to see.

I made the scrapbook and I write this blog to preserve her, to remember her, to make sure that every single day I’m here that she’s not, she matters. That she changes something and makes it better. That she touches us. That she helps us heal. And even through the dark days that threaten to and often succeed at slashing through my optimism with the tragedy of losing Trisha, even through the moments when it hits me anew what happened and it’s like a punch to the gut, even through the times I look across the table at a friend as we drink our coffee and my heart races with the fear that I will never see that friend again, Trisha matters. Her life, her spirit, the friends and family she’s reached inside the rib cages of to give our hearts an extra squeeze, it all matters, because of what she did and who she was in the short time we had her here with us.

One year ago today, we lost a truly beautiful life. But one year later, the lives of the ones she touched aren’t looking too shabby, either.



  1. Beverly Dietrich said,

    I think we all awaited this particular post with anticipation. This is perfect. I know how hard this is for you and yet your message of hope bursts through with Trisha’s spirit in full bloom. I am so glad tonight was spent in a circle of warmth, laughter and love. Peace to you and all who read your beautiful words and find a moment’s comfort.

  2. Mom said,

    I have been waiting for this post with anticipation of your emancipation and with the hope that it would be exactly this. It is beautiful and it is exactly what I would have wanted for you and all who loved Trish. It has said it all so beautifully-your message has captured the moment of the evening, the year, and the hope that comes when we lose someone we love. I feel like you have “broken through” the hellish part and can begin the beauty of her legacy for that, too, is the true gift of life. I love you so much.

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