June 1, 2010

How Can It Be

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:09 pm by jlp412

Every morning, I open my eyes to a world without Trisha. I see the empty spaces she left behind for us to fill as clearly as if they were people: I slide in next to the space she left in her friendships when I pose for group photos at our yearly reunions. I reach for the hand of the space she left in her future as we navigate the career shifts, graduate school callings and relationship rollercoasters of our twenties. I curl up next to the space she left in her family when I go to sleep at night, I cling to the space she left in the people she would have continued to touch with her giving spirit, and I inhale the space she left in me every morning when I open my eyes and breathe in a world without her.

I search for Trisha in strange places – on the metro, in the neighborhood where she lived for the summer when she interned in DC, at the restaurants she took me to as she introduced me to my new east coast home. And I see her in strange people – a tiny toddler in a stroller being pushed by hurried parents through the airport, a twenty-something woman in a Starbucks wearing an Exeter sweatshirt, a young girl bounding arm in arm with an older sister across the National Mall. I can’t count the number of times I’ve turned my head to see if it was really her, trapped in time with me in the form of someone else. And even still now, more than a year after she left us, a part of me believes she may appear, out of the blue, just as she was.

How can it be that I live in this world, where I see with equal clarity the spaces Trisha left and her face in place of a stranger’s?  How can it be that I can still laugh and travel and grow and work and sleep and run and explore this world, this place that catapulted Trisha out of it so fast we didn’t have a chance to grab her feet and pull her back down to us before she went away forever? How can the same world that gives us all this silent, pulsing energy that connects us across oceans, zip codes and phone lines be the same one that took away the source of it?

I still have some level of trust in expectation – that the sidewalk won’t fold away under my feet when I walk down 13th street to work each day, that my parents will survive into old age, that my friend’s international work travel will bring her safely back across the ocean. But the deepest core of myself isn’t so sure I won’t wake up tomorrow to everything and everyone I know piled into a messy, broken heap on the floor.

So many parts of myself and my life remain unchanged since Trisha left – I still serve as a therapist to my friends, am an irritatingly light sleeper, eat too much frozen yogurt, am on a quest to find my purpose, and ride the metro or a bus when I should just suck it up and pay for a cab. But I also demand different qualities out of my relationships, try to push down the double-headed monster of Fear and Joy when it flares up before I go to bed, go for long runs outside, write these words.

The world I see now is both emptier and richer than it’s ever been. Trisha is gone, but I see her everywhere. I lost a friend, but I found an untouched part of myself. I can still laugh until I cry, but I feel like I walk around every day with a secret that only the survivors of Trisha know, and sometimes, it makes me want to scream to the parents rushing their toddler in the stroller through the airport: “Stop running! It doesn’t matter if you miss your flight! You have a daughter and even though you worked very hard to bring her into this world, in ten seconds she can be ripped out of it.”

Every morning, I open my eyes to a world without Trisha. How can it be?


1 Comment »

  1. mom said,

    I love you so much.

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