Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ms. thorne

i want to tell you about sarah.

of course, the first thing i want to say is also the thing that i know i should wait to tell you until the end for the dramatic effect.  but i can't use her that way.  or the memory of her that way.

sarah died.

i don't even know exactly when she died.  i learned about it from facebook.  sitting right here when suddenly i discovered her gone.  a light i thought was burning up in alaska or maybe in south america somewhere.  a light that every now and then would show up close by and i would be in awe of it.  of her.

i met sarah while i was student teaching.  she was in the 8th grade.  i think i met her parents once- but it was her presence that taught me a lot about parenting.  she talked about her family with deep love.  she described their trips together- she once mailed me a photo of a flower blooming in the desert.  a teen-age girl mailed me a photo of a hot pink flower growing out of dry sand.  that still astounds me.

i spent part of my day with sarah for twenty-weeks.  a small part- in a room with 30 other teens.  we met up a few times.  we wrote letters to each other.  she mailed me a swatch of fabric for the quilt i have still not made for cyrus.  in honesty, i didn't know her very deeply.  i considered her a friend and i knew some facts about her.  but she was one of those folks i also intended to spend more time with "someday."

and then one day she was just gone.

when i heard that she died i went through my box of photos and old letters.  i found that photo of the pink desert flower.  it seemed so impossible for that lusciousness to grow in such a seemingly barren landscape.  that bush maybe only bloomed once every 10 years- when the rain and the wind and the sun was all just right.  the seeds could have sat dormant for longer than i have been breathing.  miracle in the soil.

while i was searching through my memories i also found sarah's graduation announcement from high school.  i went to the ceremony.  her announcement has a picture of her in jeans, sitting near a moss-covered tree.  her smile is shy and confident.  on the front of the card it has a quote from fanny brice: let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be.

i could think and feel on that quote for days.

but it's the inside that really tears at me.  it's from thoreau.

i went to the woods because i wished to live deliberately.  i wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, and see if i could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when i came to die, discover that i had not lived.

i have this card right next to the computer along with photos of my boys, bits of poems, forgotten log-in names and passwords.  i see her everyday.  but most days i don't see her at all.  or i see her photo and forget the message, the moral of her life-story.

sarah died while hiking in alaska.  she was outside, under blue sky, green trees.  i don't have the medical terms for it.  was it an aneurysm or a blood clot?  it doesn't matter. i know i romanticize her death because i want to believe that she didn't suffer, didn't want more, didn't feel cheated.  i want to believe that she knew she was living deeply.  she was sucking the marrow out of life.  i want to believe that she was ok with it so that i can be ok with it.

i miss sarah.  i miss the curiosity i had about her life- wondering what she was up to.  watching her grace spread about like the dawn.  i miss seeing exactly how to suck the marrow of life.  how to live deep. 

dive deep.
so when we come up for air.
we gasp at it with intention
and gratitude.

1 comment:

  1. I'm crying some tears over this one. I'm sorry you lost your friend.
    Love you...