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.
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.
so when we come up for air.
we gasp at it with intention