January 22, 2011

I Still Feel Trisha

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:51 pm by jlp412

I still do double-takes, on the subway or on an escalator in the mall or at a Caribou Coffee downtown, when I think I see Trisha in the form of an 8 year-old girl clutching her father’s hand or a college student wearing an oversized red hoodie or a young woman in a suit walking briskly across the street as the seconds count down and the orange hand flashes its warning.

But I have to think harder now, about her face, her smile, the sound of her voice, to really remember them. I know what she meant to me, but it washes over me in this mesh of feelings, and it gets confused sometimes with just missing her, or feeling like I should be missing her, when I’m mid-laugh or mid-sleep or mid-run and suddenly gasp as I realize that I was not thinking about Trisha during moments when maybe a year ago, I would have been. And then my mind races with even more tangled thoughts about the guilt of that, and of writing here less, and of feeling the need to actively affirm that I remember – not just what Trisha meant to me, but how her death changed me, the lessons it taught me, the people who matter more to me, the ways I’m different now, and the part she played in that transformation.

I struggle constantly with this need to find the tangible traces of Trisha against the reality of her nearly two-year absence from this earth, which is, simply, less tangible. But sometimes this seeming evasiveness can make her feel even more present, like when I took my first trip out of the country, to Israel, in December.

I had this amazing moment at the Western Wall, where I stood with the palms of my hands touching the white, uneven stones of a 6,000 year old wall that towered up toward the sky and brimmed over with the paper notes and prayers of so many people, some long gone by now, some with long lives still ahead, and I felt Trisha there, taking it all in with me. Did I have a specific moment where I saw some sort of sign that reminded me of her, or felt a breeze that seemed to be her spirit brushing by, or saw her face suddenly among the hundreds of women praying there beside me? No. But I felt her tapestry wrapped around my shoulders, as I stood in one of the holiest places in the world, the farthest I’ve ever been from home, and the closest I’ve ever felt to Trisha since she died.

So although I may not have as many moments as I did last year where flashes of her swoop through my thoughts’ path and jar me out of whatever I’m doing, and while I may have less nightmares of her accident or funeral or exaggerated, reinvented versions of both, although some days she may seem to drift farther and farther away at the rate that time propels us more and more forward, I still feel Trisha. I can’t describe it as vividly as I did nearly two years ago when she was freshly plucked away from us, but I think that’s okay. The way I feel Trisha today may be trickier to fit into words and may be harder to isolate into specific moments than it was when we first lost her, but I still feel her.

We ran our second half marathon in her honor last year, and we’ll run one again this year. She now has an adorable nephew who I can’t wait to meet, and he will grow up with part of Trisha’s heart beating in his tiny chest even though he will never meet her. I think often now of the risk Trisha took leaving her job in Chicago to go to Ghana, and I’m less scared to contemplate changes in my own life’s path that I would have brushed away as too risky two years ago.

Maybe the words aren’t pouring out of me at quite the same pace. Maybe the Team Trisha Facebook wall posts and 3 a.m. phone calls and group e-mails are less frequent now. Maybe the photos and scrapbooks and videos have all already been posted and compiled. Maybe the specific way her voice rose and fell with its Trisha cadence, or the way it felt to hug her, or the way we sounded as we clutched each other’s shoulders singing Journey on the dance floor, maybe those memories are all a bit hazier around the edges now.

I’m trying hard not to let that scare me. Because I know despite the slow fade of all of these parts of her, we still remember Trisha. She’s still changed us. And there will still be moments to come when she’ll weave her way into our lives and surprise us in ways we can’t yet anticipate.

Two more years or twenty more years from now, wherever we are and however many more words are written here, I know I’ll still feel Trisha. And I hope that much sooner than that, I’ll be content to just feel her in whatever way I do.

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