May 3, 2010

Filling the Space

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:41 pm by jlp412

I’m trying to fill up the space you left, Trisha. More than one year after we gently tossed petals over your body, we all still lean on each other, swallow down parts of each other that may have caused us to distance ourselves from each other before, as we remember you. The days are easier now, not because we’re accustomed to your absence, but because we’ve gotten better at finding ways to fill up our days where you used to be.

“Don’t stop believin'” comes on at nearly every bar we frequent on Saturday nights, and every time, from wherever we’re all scattered in various cities on various dancefloors across the country, we think of you. Sometimes it makes us cry or withdraw when we don’t want to, and other times it makes us laugh harder and belt out the lyrics louder than before, because that’s what we did with you when you were here.

There have been so many moments in the last year, Trisha, when we’ve all reached for our phones to call you, to ask your advice, to hear you laugh or commiserate with you about a bad day or just to have you listen, like you always used to do, without judgment, with your widened perspective and a sense of what was worth losing sleep over and what wasn’t. We’ve turned to find you during one of our reunions, to share a laugh or a piece of dessert or a picture, and when we go to reach for you, we remember you. We wonder what you would have said to us in these moments when we need your friendship, and we call on each other, this battered group of those who understand what it’s like to keep losing you again and again, moment by moment, when we turn to you and you’re not there, when we try to substitute our own words for yours, and when we fail. But we try. And when we do, we fill up a little more of the space you left.

I write less frequently now, but it’s not because I have less to say – it’s because I am growing less and less sure of how to say it. It’s confusing without you now, Trisha, in a way that it wasn’t before. Last year, we were training for a half marathon (as we are again this year), throwing our grief into a physical challenge that most of us, myself included, never imagined doing on our own, unprompted by a motivation of you. We made a scrapbook, we raised money for your memorial fund, and we turned toward the year anniversary of life without you with a strange mingling of dread and longing, wanting at once to move beyond March 19, 2009, and also to catapult ourselves back to that date, just to feel the immediacy of your loss again, to be reminded of what it felt like when you were first ripped away, rather than the slowly deflating sense of emptiness we feel now without you.

It’s been more than a year. You’re still gone. What now, Trisha? What are we supposed to do now?

We can keep running half marathons, keep raising money, and keep telling stories about you to each other and to strangers to keep your name floating through the space around us, but what are we supposed to do to fill the rest of the space you left us with when those things stop being enough?

Your name is still in my phone. I am still connected to you online through different websites. I found an envelope just last month with your handwriting on it. But when I go to look for the owner of the phone, the person behind the online photos, the author of the card you sent me, I just find the space we’re left to fill with as much of you as we can.

My thoughts still turn to you every day, Trisha. I thought somehow after a year without you came and went that this would all make more sense, that the space would start to fill up on its own with memories and tributes and new friendships. That missing you somehow would become routine, like brushing my teeth and making my morning coffee. But instead, I’m still shocked by your loss, I’m still incredulous that you aren’t around to share the moments we’re all sharing, I’m still searching for you on the dancefloor when I sing a stupid Journey song, and I still expect that one time, maybe I’ll see you there, your fist pumping toward the sky as you jump around and shout the lyrics with me.

But all I see is the space around me where you should be, and it keeps growing. So we keep trying to find bigger things to fill it up. But what I’m starting to realize is that as much as we can morph you into different forms – a half marathon, a long-needed job change, a re-connection with an old friend – nothing will ever quite fill up the space you left, because nothing will ever come close to taking the place of you.