Thursday, November 5, 2015

Still learning

My baby girl ...
It's been over two years since you passed away.  Trying to grasp it, I shake my head.  I still don't know how I've been able to survive these months with you gone - well, maybe I do - the love of those left behind has really helped.  

I've been thinking a lot about how much of an impact you have had on my life, not only by your death, but also (and much more) by your life, how you lived it, and what was important to you.  

I have talked a lot about what I learned through your passing, and the miracles with which I have been blessed in the midst of my grief.  I focus on those blessings because they are truly miraculous, and I so need the miraculous. 

The day-to-day reality is still of such unutterable sadness; I try to fill my days with other, busy things to occupy my mind.  Work, school, eat, sleep ... never enough sleep. Every day I am reminded in some way, whether I talk about it or not, of your absence from my life.  I can't say that I have gotten used to the dull ache inside that is my constant companion.  Sometimes it lifts, but then it comes back.  It is relentless, this "new normal."  And sometimes, it overwhelms me - even now.  

And so, lately I have been allowing myself to be inspired by you yourself, and how you approached (or should I say, attacked) every day.  Carpe deim - seize the day - was one of your guiding philosophies, even though you never said those exact words.  You were more inclined to say go big or go home - and friends matter.  And - of course - every snowflake counts.

If anyone was sad, you were the first to try and cheer them up.  If they were happy, you were happy with them and helped them celebrate. Your hugs were the best... tight and warm and long and heart-felt.  You would do the craziest things to lighten the mood, hated it when things were too quiet.  

Arielle, summer 2003
I remember the day that you and your sister and I went on a trail ride at one of those tourist stables - I think it was in Brackley.  We had such fun - you were around eleven - and then we went to this little diner nearby and got treats.  You had your first milkshake ... strawberry ... you were so excited!  From you, I learned that even the smallest shared pleasures can bring the greatest joy.

There was the time when you were four, and we were walking across the parking lot toward the grocery store.  It had rained the day before and the sun was out.  You slowed down almost to a snail's pace, irritating my take-charge agenda... until you told me what you were looking at.  "The rainbow, Mummy."  When I asked where, you said, "... in the puddle.  Look!" and you pointed.  There, in a dirty puddle with a little motor oil residue floating on top, were iridescent colours of red and green and blue and purple, reflecting a mini-rainbow, slowly distorting like a lava-lamp, in the most unlikely of places. We squatted and looked into the rainbow for a couple of minutes. From you, I learned to slow down, and to look for beauty ... because if I did that, I would find it, sometimes when I least expected it.  

There were countless times when you were a child that you would rush into the house in the summer and grab about five jumbo Mr. Freezies from our freezer, cut them in half and take them outside to give treats to your friends.  I complained.  I said you were trying to buy your friends.  I asked if you thought I was made of money.  But it never crossed your mind to withhold good things from your friends.  They were hot and thirsty, and you cared about them.  From you, I learned that love is lavishly generous.  It just is.  It doesn't need a reason and it makes no excuses.  It just gives.  I had to learn that lesson.  You just knew it instinctively.  

The stories I can tell are only a small portion of how amazing you were - wise beyond your years and a never-ending source of happy, crazy, funny, off-the-wall, passionate and compassionate you-ness.  I have learned even more of your stories from those who knew you - the lives you touched in your 21 years here with us has been far more than a lot of people get to touch. And you didn't do any of the things people associate with success: you never finished school, never had a job for any more than a few months ... yet you are still teaching me. 

I am still learning.  Maybe someday, I can be a little more like you ... when I grow up.

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