Thursday, February 24, 2011


For a moment, the world stopped turning.

I've been struggling with writing about this, about trying to do this justice, but the truth of it is I don't think I can because it's not something one should ever have to do, to capture a luminous spirit to show those who don't know look, I knew true good once, see here, can't you see? Isn't she beautiful?

One of my best friends was in Christchurch, wrapping up her 18 month worldwide adventure, shopping before her plane trip that would bring her home.

And the world cracked open and we don't know where she is.

There are second-hand stories and clouded eye witness accounts that tell of a brutal ending to a body 27 years young (as of the Friday before), but her parents and her bestest and we other friends she held close have not heard confirmation. Some are praying steadfastly for her return; others are bracing to hear the worst.

I'm not going to proselytize her to you, because that would cheapen her spirit, which is still very much alive, regardless of the state of her flesh and bone. I will say that the world is a darker place without her physicality, and a tender piece of my heart is buried somewhere in the New Zealand rubble -- a place I always wanted to visit, but now will consider an absolutely necessary pilgrimage before my days are inevitably cut short.

These visceral emotions have less to do with her than they do with me -- that's all grief really is anyway, an extension of our own selfish preservation -- we mourn for what we can no longer do or hear or see or feel. She is not someone to be mourned, though, but celebrated daily. She was living, truly living the life given to her and it would break her heart to see us mope about so.

So I think of the last time I spoke to her, amidst my latest major life catastrophe, and how good it felt to be in her presence. I think about the decade old memories shared and the oh so different paths we took in life, yet the friendship that neither time nor geography could weaken. I focus on the lessons she taught through example and internalize them, promising myself as I promised her to stop selling myself short; to do what makes me happy; to never stop dancing and singing even if I think I'm terrible.

I see the sun shine through the impenetrable Ohio winter clouds and I see her stand in my kitchen by the window, face creased with her apologetic smile, beckoning me with open arms for an embrace. So I go to the window and stand in the sunlight and remember what it felt like over a year ago to hug her so long on your adventure, see you on Thursday because she hated to say goodbye, hated finality. And I sob, because I don't know what else to do but mourn and let waves of guilt fall over me for the friend I fear I wasn't to her, for all those things grief makes you think about.

And then, I smile. Because she wouldn't want me to mourn her loss.

She'd want me to celebrate her life and accomplishments and friendships and love, oh the unconditional love was the best part of all.

So I hug and kiss my children and dance and sing with them in the fading rays of sunlight in my kitchen, and somewhere I hear her laugh and clap and say cheers, friend as the gray overtakes the skies once again, and everything appears to be back to normal but is anything but.

The world spins madly on; our freshly-stained floors are uneven; the babies cry and are soothed; my husband goes to work and comes home again; the laundry needs done, the house cleaned and projects completed before my son's second birthday party.

And I soldier on, because the last thing she would have wanted was to cause anyone pain.

Yet, for a moment, the world stopped turning. It opened up and swallowed one of the greatest people I've ever had the immeasurable pleasure of knowing.

But her translucent spirit lives on, in everyone she touched, through the metaphorical and physical clouds she could always part with her smile.

Cheers, friend. I'll see you again on Thursday.


JP Ryan said...

I'm Irish so we have the tradition of celebrating the life of a person rather than mourning our loss of them. I love that.

I'm glad you're doing it too...

Casey said...

I hope your friend is safe. Glad she has such a positive influence on those around her. That, is awesome.

Christibear said...

I wish it were possible to type a genuine hug on comments and have it actually work. And I hope someday that I have been the type of friend who deserves such beautiful words. I'm sure she is proud of you.