February 14, 2011
My grandmother and my friend, Rick, died within twelve days of each other. She passed away on a Wednesday. The next day I spoke to Rick for the first time in a while. I told him about my grandmother. He tried to comfort me and then asked me to come out with some friends that night. I wasn’t up to it, but I suggested we meet for dinner the next evening. He agreed and said he’d call me to plan a time.
I would never hear from him. The next day he was involved in an accident and ended up in a coma from which he would never awaken. I have always regretted not accepting his invitation to come out the night before the accident.
I often replay the last time I saw my grandmother in my head—how I was wearing green eye shadow and she told me it was pretty and to always wear it. We were sitting in her dining room talking and then watching TV in her bedroom. Eventually, she mentioned it was getting late, so I left.
I remember the last time I saw Rick. He was lying in a hospital bed and I was alone with him saying goodbye. There was a monitor, and white walls, and stillness, and me—at 23—crying my eyes out, struggling to walk out of the room but not wanting to go. I couldn’t remember ever telling him I’d loved him before, and now I didn’t know if he could hear me.
These moments have haunted me. For nearly ten years, I’ve thought of them only as the last moments I would ever be with these people I loved and the last moments they would ever be with me.
Then this past Saturday, I burned the shit out of my hand.
In that second after I’d touched the pan, I immediately started crying. I cried because in that moment I wanted someone I loved to be there with me—to help me—but I was alone and what I wanted was not so.
A few minutes later, I sat down on my couch. In stillness, I started talking to myself. It was me talking, only not just me. I liken what happened to what Liz Gilbert writes about in Eat, Pray, Love when she tells the story about sitting on her bathroom floor, in despair, praying for an answer to what to do about her marriage. In that moment, she says God told her to “go back to bed.”
What I heard my voice say was, “Everything is going to be OK. You’re not alone. I love you.” It said some other things along the same lines that I won’t get into right now, but like Liz’s experience, I felt it was a voice that cared about me—a voice that wanted me to feel peace. I shared this story with a friend yesterday, and she told me that voice was God—that it was spirit.
Later, as I was blow drying my hair and looking in the mirror, a song popped into my head—as songs often do. (I’ve included the link to video for the song below, and the lyrics can be found just below the video.) When this song began playing in my head, I started crying again. Not because I was upset or afraid but because in that moment I understood that my grandmother, and Rick, and all the people I’ve loved and lost are still here—with me. I have no proof of it. It’s just a feeling I have, and I choose to believe in it.
I’ve been kicking around the ideas of faith and trust and love for the past few weeks. I’ve been searching for ways to understand what they are, what they mean to people, and why people continue to believe in them. Yesterday, on a day known to by many as a day of God and a day of rest, I found faith in the idea that not only is God within us, guiding us and keeping us safe, but our loved ones are as well. From this discovery, I also found trust in the love I have for myself. With the many tears that fell this weekend, came comfort, and support, and clarity.
Originally, this blog entry was supposed to be about loving yourself—in honor of Valentine’s Day. But then, all this stuff just happened, and I had to share it. They say if you want love, give it away and it will come back to you. This blog is my love to anyone who reads what I write. I write it for you, with the hope that it will help inspire you towards your greatest life. But I also write it for myself. I love writing it, and I love looking back at what I write as a reminder of the lessons I’m learning. I hope you love reading it.
“When You Come Back Down” by Nickel Creek