Wednesday, October 22, 2014

And counting...

Well, it's finally here. 

Three hundred and sixty-four days ago, on the evening of the day we found out about her passing, we had no clue that we'd have made it this far. "The day the police came" is now family code for the day our lives turned upside down with the sudden death of our little girl at the tender age of 21 years. 

I've written so much about her here on this blog that no doubt you feel that you know her; that was my intent. To know her is to be changed by her. She was - and is - a force of nature. Learning her story is transformational. Telling it reminds me of the things she taught me just by being herself and going to the mat for people. 

The past year has been one I've spent counting. Counting the days at first ... six days since she passed. Ten. Twelve. (Every Wednesday was agony. The sleep wouldn't come until after 1 a.m. most nights.) Then I counted the weeks - two, three, four, five, six... thirteen - interspersed with months... each one seemed to drag by until it was over and then I would look back and say, "I can't believe it's been four months." Or six. Or eight. 

A trusted friend, one I've known now for 13 years, told me at the beginning of this process that the time would come when I'd stop counting the weeks, stop noticing it was Wednesday. 

I didn't believe him. 

But he was mostly right. Time has a way of ticking away and the tyranny of the urgent sometimes becomes a bit of a comfort; busy-ness can sometimes get one's mind off things and give it a bit of a break from the harsh realities of loss. 

But it doesn't diminish its intensity. 

What has healed me most has been the love and loving expressions of support and friendship that I've experienced - at first in a flood back last fall, and more lately in odd comments that this one or that one will make - comments that remind me that people haven't forgotten. They haven't forgotten me, my family, and best of all, they haven't forgotten her. 

This is the counting that - for the most part - I have taken to doing now. I count the expressions of love, the kind deeds (like the apple someone brought me today because she heard that I liked one once in a while and because she knew it was a tough day), the emails and Facebook chats, the posts on her wall and on mine - the snowflakes left on her stone today from three special people ... and the list goes on, and on, and on. 

These are the things I count now. Time does march on ... but love brings music and gratitude and peace. I count friends ... friends who sincerely care and who show it, as she did. I count remembrances of her. I count friends of hers who loved her dearly and who now - for reasons I can't quite explain - love me too. I count songs that she loved or that remind me of her personality or her beauty or her feisty in-your-face defense of her friends - or her ability to make others laugh... sometimes just by bursting out laughing long and loud and strong ... for no reason at all. And her laugh was so contagious. So very contagious. Even when I was angry at her, I couldn't help laughing with her.

Days like today are very hard. I won't deny it. But as love goes on and on, I am not counting the days ... but the signs of life that I see springing up where she has walked. The changed lives, the transformed attitudes, the seeds of hope and faith and love she planted that are now bearing fruit: these are the things that I count. 

Because THEY count.

Oh!  PS: This was actually one video that Arielle texted to me, but my cell phone broke it into two videos. It was created around the first of September 2013, about six weeks before she passed away. I've been waiting for the right time to share it with my readers. This seemed like a good time.  I apologize for any poor picture quality.

Part 1:
aaaand part 2. 

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