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Nov. 22nd, 2009

The Presence of a Day

It’s strange to think that one day out of the year, just any other day, can have such an effect on you. It’s just another day, another block on the calendar. Another 24 hours. Nothing special. But as soon as we attach some sort of mnemonic to it, it has a power to physically and mentally change us. This whole week I knew that today was coming up, and I was fine, I thought I wasn’t that affected. I thought, it’s just another day. I think about Lauren all the time on days that don’t mean anything and why should today be any different? It’s just another day. … But somehow it’s not. Without realizing it today crept into my psyche and all day yesterday I couldn’t understand why I was in such a funk. And then I realized, it was because today was coming. It was hanging over me and pressing down on me. I could feel it weighing me down. After I realized that today was coming, I was overwhelmed with this incredible sadness, and I don’t understand why. I knew today was going to happen. It wasn’t a surprise really, and I had thought about it many times last week and been fine. But somehow the actual presence of the day, the reality of the day itself, carried with it an oppression that I couldn’t escape. I guess I’m glad, though, that I still can be affected by it, that I still am sad. I still miss her.


THE PRESENCE OF A DAY
The day came with subtlety, creeping through the cracks
of Wednesday Thursday Friday holding its breath
Barely a whisper of warning -
that I refused to heed.
I thought I saw the day before it approached,
anticipated its ache, its meaning, its heaviness
And declared myself unaffected, free of its presence
But it enveloped me, wrapped me up and suffocated me with its
folds of shadows and hazy disconnected-discontented-ness
It took hold of me and I could not
understand what it was pressing down
Until I realized, and then the weight only became heavier
Tried to rinse it off
Rub the dark depression from my skin, sud the shadows from my hair
But I only pushed the day deeper in, and its presence settled into my bones
Like a lead string pulling from joint to joint
I was drowning in the presence of a day, just another day, but
despite this, inescapable, forcing its heavy load through my denying veins
and slowly bringing itself to my surface.
And my stomach sinks with the weight of her presence.

Sep. 15th, 2009

I miss you.

Today I was talking to my friend Mike and he showed me the beginnings of a book he started writing his freshman year of high school. And just like that I thought of Lauren, and the book that she and Sam were writing our freshman year of high school, and how they were so secretive about it but they would show me passages and excerpts of chapters with names crossed out, debating about names and eye color, picking at wording, asking me for advice, and how good they were. They were already planning on a movie that was going to be based off the book!
And thinking about Lauren made me realize that I didn't visit her grave once this summer, the whole three months that I was home. Not once. And I don't know why.. well I do know, but it's stupid. I didn't want to be sad. I didn't want to be serious. I didn't want to go by myself. But I know that visiting her doesn't mean I have to be sad or deep or serious or whatever, I can just go visit her. I could just stop by to say hey, I miss you, life is good. Leave a flower on her grave and enjoy the summer day, carrying a happy memory of Lauren with me. And then I realized that I left my locket at home. I know exactly where it is. I can picture it in the little box on the new bookshelves I put up this summer. I wish I could just pick it up and put it on. But I can't visit her right now; she's five hours away and I have class at 9:20 tomorrow morning. But for now this will have to be enough. For now I just want to let you know, Lauren,
I miss you.

~ Christie

Feb. 25th, 2009

Happy Birthday Lauren <3

Today is February 25, 2009 - Lauren's 19th birthday. I miss her, and I wish I was home to put a flower on her grave for her. I'm wearing my locket, as usual, but today it means something more. I don't know what to say today about death, Lauren, or myself dealing with all that, but I will share something that's been on my mind, for you and Lauren.

I have been doing a lot of thinking in the past couple months since I've written anything here, mostly about big picture things - life, death, love, God. I've been shaking dust off the shelves and throwing some books away, writing skeptical, curious, and sometimes contradictory notes in the pages of others, and just reexamining things I've taken for granted. Most of all God. I've been in such a transitional period; I hardly ever come to conclusions, and the more questions I ask the more and more come floating off the dusty shelves. A few weeks ago I was really a mess about it. (I must have been having a reaction to the dust. But now that my sinuses are cleared, I've been able to sift through the things that brought themselves to attention.) I came to terms with the fact that I am going through yet another transitional phase, and that I am right where I'm supposed to be. And then I realized: Life is a constant transitional phase. I don't know if I will ever truly settle into a mindset or philosophy. Most of my questions will not be met with sufficient answers, and once I think I've found what I was looking for something else will go scampering off and here we go again. It's not a bad thing, or a pessimistic thing - in fact, it's optimistic. It's just life. We all think that we are supposed to find the answers and settle down, and know exactly what we think about everything. We call it being educated. But I am happy, at the sacrifice of comfort, to be in my perpetual state of transition. I want to always be moving forward and improving, always learning more about myself and the world around me. I'm not saying I don't want to know what I believe - that's something important. It's just that I don't want to settle for the answers I think I have found, and I am sure that even after I answer one question another will be right there waiting. So I will keep asking questions to bring me as close to the truth as possible before my time is up.

Deo ac veritati
~ Christie


Dec. 18th, 2008

Let It Be

 This song has suddenly become more meaningful and powerful to me, even than it was before. I was really listening to the lyrics today, and for some reason I for the first time really understood what they were saying. They are perfect and honest and beautiful, and peaceful despite the sadness. They are what I feel and what I want to say.

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the broken hearted people
Living in the world agree,
There will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted there is
Still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be.

Let it be, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Yeah, There will be an answer, let it be.

Let it be, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Yeah, There will be an answer, let it be.
(instrumental break)

Let it be, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Yeah, There will be an answer, let it be.

And when the night is cloudy,
There is still a light that shines on me.
Shine until tomorrow, let it be.
I wake up to the sound of music
Mother Mary comes to me
There will be no sorrow, let it be.

Let it be, let it be.
Let it be, yeah let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be.
Yeah let it be, yeah let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom,
let it be. 


I feel like I should put something up...

 ...just to let anyone who reads my blog know, I realized yesterday that I feel a lot better about everything... Well, I don't know if better is the right word, but not as in the dark, and I don't really feel the bitterness of it all. I realized that I shouldn't regret anything. My post the other day feels very dark and rereading it I know not all of what I wrote is how I truly feel - it was just that moment. (Isn't it interesting how what we feel in a moment can be true then and not true later? Sincerity is transitive, it is not a constant, but still, it is sincere. Life is full of paradoxes.)

I had a really good, refreshing, deep, warm, and comforting conversation with a friend about all this yesterday, and it really helped me sort some things out. I don't want to explain it all, because I don't think I can articulate it at this point, and I think trying to write about it will muddle it for me, but I'll try to get a few thoughts out.

Death isn't something you get over. It's something you live with, and deal with, and live through. Life and death have always worked in harmony. They balance each other; they are contingent on each other. Death is sad because we don't understand it - we feel separated from it and from the person. But at the same time, I really can't imagine there is much to be afraid of. I don't believe I will ever cease to exist. I believe a soul is infinite and death is just a passing from one phase of being to another. I believe that I will go to heaven when I die, and I will see God face to face. 

It's okay to be sad. It's okay to want to be sad. What's not okay is not wanting to live with and through the fact. One thing about death is that it changes you forever. Things will never be the same. But that's not good or bad, that's the way things are. I think that without experiencing death, you can't truly relate to or understand the world around you. Death makes you ask the right questions. It's experiences like this - losing a loved one, falling in love for the first time, having a child, sex, having your heart broken, deciding what you want to do with your life - experiences like these are what allow you to relate to the world and not only understand it but be a part of it. Everything is interconnected and related. The way we live through bad or hard experiences in our lives is what truly defines and shapes us as a person.
(I think that any kind of trauma, especially death, makes you ask the right questions, the important ones. It makes you think about things in a different way. I would say that even if the experience itself doesn't spark creativity about that specific event, it tends to make you a more creative person in general because it makes you ask those questions and opens doors in your mind that would've been shut for a long time otherwise.)

Being sad and being content don’t have to be separate. You can be peaceful without ignoring the issue or pushing it to the back of your mind. In fact, the best thing is to be peaceful or content while also completely aware of the terrible truth at the same moment. That is being completely honest with yourself and approaching understanding, allowing yourself to understand and to accept. When you deal with death you can’t compartmentalize – it all has to be at once: you before, you now, dealing with it, keeping on living, remembering and moving past, living though and with it, happiness and sadness, understanding and confusion and anger and acceptance and questions. If you don’t let yourself see the big picture you’ll never come close to getting out of the dark.

It's okay to ask questions. When Lauren died I was so ready to accept the answers that I had ready for myself, I didn't really look deeper than that. I didn't ask other questions, I didn't get angry or scared. I thought I was too set in my beliefs and understood them to such an extent that I already knew how to deal with things. Well I'm sure I'm being too hard on myself, but I feel like I am on such a different level now that it's hard not to be biased. I'm in such a transitional phase of my life right now, everything is being questioned and shaken off it's comfortable shelf... but that's okay. That's good. That's the way it should be. 

I know Lauren would be happy right now if she could see me, if she could read the things I've written because of her, if she could hear the conversations I've had since she's been gone. I'm not sure where I am right now, where I stand really, but I know I am on my way to a good place, and I can already feel the warmth settling in my core. It feels like going home.

Dec. 16th, 2008

My College Essay

Prompt from the Common Application - Topic of your choice: My combination of “Evaluate a significant experience” and “Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you” and describe its impact / that influence on you.


“Christine, you left your locket on.” “What?! I did? Oh no!” I jumped out of the pool as quickly as I could, grabbed a towel and rushed inside. With shaky fingers I undid the clasp, trying to handle the delicate gold chain with care but impatient to inspect the damage. I laid the heart unhinged on the table, two golden halves resting on the dry, solid wood and I dabbed lightly at the photo so as not to smudge the ink. My frantic heart slowed a bit when I saw the picture was still intact, a frenzied sort of relief pumping through my veins. I stood there for a minute, staring at the picture and convincing myself that everything really was okay. The panic that had gripped me moments before began to ebb, and I slipped back into the pool, leaving the locket to dry in the summer breeze.

This may seem an unwarranted, even irrational, response, but this locket holds someone very special to me: my friend, Lauren. She died in the fall of our sophomore year. Just a week before her death, we had gone to the Homecoming dance together, scouting out boys we wished would ask us to dance. Only three days before, we had traveled with our fellow chorus members to audition for the Eastern Regions Festival Chorus, and Lauren had comforted others despite disappointment over her own score. Lauren was not the first person in my life to die, but her death was the first to impact me so deeply and profoundly. When I was six years old and my great-great-aunt died, it did not shake me. It was a blink in my small world, one brief moment of black that passed through my mind without leaving an impression. Lauren’s death was the first time I had to deal with real grief; the “hour of lead” which Emily Dickinson wrote about suddenly became something I could understand: something “remembered, if outlived.” Lauren’s death not only made me realize how fleeting life is and how real death is; it forced me to ask questions and cling to my faith in order to endure.

            When Lauren died it was certainly an awakening, but I wouldn’t call it rude. In a way, Lauren’s friendship and her example as a person continued to help me grow even through her death, and the thought of her is a constant reminder of the purpose I have in life. She is a symbol of joy, of faith, and of Christ-like kindness. These are ideas and ways of life that make up who I am, and Lauren, in her caring, loving nature, showed me how to live that life to the fullest. Lauren was a real person, a close friend on whom I could draw support and share my thoughts with. To me, she is more real than a pastor’s sermon or words in a book because her life happened to me. At Lauren’s funeral, they passed out bookmarks with her picture and an Old Irish blessing on them, and her own version of the "Apostle's Creed" echoed through the church. Hearing this profession of faith and Lauren’s confident words ringing in my ears gave me a sense of assurance and hope which I had not expected to receive at a funeral. Rather than shaking me loose from my faith, Lauren’s death, as well as her life, rocked me to the core but solidified my grasp on God. It gave me a new level of faith, much more firm than I had experienced before, and forced me to hold on tighter than ever. The night of the wake I wore my black dress coat, the same one I had worn to Homecoming two weeks before. I reached into the pocket as I stood in line, waiting to greet her parents, and I found Lauren's student I.D. card. She had given it to me to hold on to at the dance and I had forgotten to give it back; now I held a piece of her in my hand. I still keep that I.D. in the same pocket of that jacket, and she is there whenever I need another reminder. Lauren’s dedication to God and to life itself is a beacon into the future for me. Though I seem to cling to the past and grip it with vise-like fingers, it is through my nostalgia and retrospection that I am able to move into the future. Lauren’s death did not drag me down, it projected me into the life I have ahead. I know for a fact that without her death I would not have grown into the person I am today.

When I glued that photo into the right half of the locket, I never imagined having to replace it. I spent hours meticulously cutting the small photo from our Homecoming night to fit perfectly into the locket’s frame, and I super-glued it so that it could never fall loose from the locket’s hold. I never have been able to put another picture in the locket beside Lauren’s. Somehow, it wouldn’t be right. Of all the people I hold dear in my heart, none can be placed next to her in this special place of remembrance and respect. This locket not only represents Lauren and my desire to remember, her amazing influence and her inspiring example; it is a symbol of the growth that came to me in the wake of her death. I will always have this locket, and I will always have the memory of Lauren, whether in spirit or held in a gold, heart-shaped frame. Inside my locket is someone who showed me the promise of faith and the hope God has for me. As I sank back into the pool that day, I let the cool water rush over me and thought of Lauren. “I will always keep this locket safe,” I told myself. “Nothing will ever remove the impression she has made on my life.” 



Holding on to the past can pull you down or it can push you up. It all depends on how you use the past to help you grow. 

(no subject)

 I just posted my playlist about Lauren on my blog, with descriptions of why each song is on there, and then I was thinking about things and I was (am) feeling sad, and I just wanted to cry. Not that I want to be sad, I just want to get it out. And I called Sam, who was also best friends with Lauren - we were like a threesome - but she didn’t answer her phone. And then I remembered the time Junior year on Lauren’s birthday that Brad took me to Stop & Shop to buy a card and I brought it to her family and hugged her dad and put flowers on her grave and stood there not crying for so long, Brad just being there for me, and when he dropped me off at my house I saw my mom on the couch and she asked what I did that night and all I could say was that I saw her parents and then I just started crying. It was like as soon as the door closed and I was home it all came out, and my mom hugged me and it felt a little better. I just want that again, to cry like that. But there’s no one here for me to cry to, and even if there were I probably wouldn’t be able to anyway.

I wonder if this is good for me, thinking about this all the time. That’s probably why I haven’t been doing a blog post every day. That was my original plan, but then it was too hard. I know that the blog is helping me, but I think if I get too wrapped up in it it could be a bad thing. I don’t think it’s good to dwell on it for too long. It’s been three years, it wasn’t a month ago. And many worse things could have happened to me in my life. I had only been best friends with Lauren for a little while, not even a year. Her family didn’t even know me that well... I used to write to her parents, after she died. More than once a year, usually around her birthday and her anniversary, and I wrote them once over the summer, just to say hi. I don’t know if they ever got that postcard though, because half of the postcards I sent from Guam didn’t get to where they were going. I haven’t been able to write to them since I’ve been at college, and I don’t know if they miss it or if they barely noticed. I never got any mail back, just a hug when I saw them. They gave me a present when I got into National Honor Society the year after Lauren died. I wish I had been friends with Lauren longer so I could have gotten to know them better. The night Lauren got hurt, I came into the auditorium at school to sing with Chamber Choir for the NHS induction, and someone asked me if I had heard about Lauren. I hadn’t. I had no idea what was going on. I had to sing while I was wondering if she was okay. My friend Brittany prayed with me in the bathroom and I rushed home to call Sam. She hadn’t heard anything either, so we called Lauren’s other best friend, Brie. Lauren was in the hospital. She wasn’t doing well. Sam and I never would have known. A bunch of us went over to Brie’s house and stayed up all night, praying and writing cards to Lauren’s family. At this point we knew Lauren was going to die. I remember how powerful it was, being surrounded by about ten of my peers and just praying, unplanned and completely honest and open with God. Sam and I spent the next day in the career center, waiting for news and writing more cards. I wrote cards for other people. We talked, told stories. Our freshman year English teacher, Mr. Esposito, came in and gave us each a hug.  I didn’t go to math class, but I remember seeing my teacher, Mr. Reilly, when we were walking in that morning. It was the day before Thanksgiving break. After we found out, our parents came and picked us up. I had no tears. I think I went home and slept for a long time. The next day Sam and I went on a walk at Haley Farm with my mom, and we took her key and graffiti-ed “Forever Lauren” into one of the bars inside the train bridge. It felt good to leave something there for her. The next year we came back, and someone had added the word “loving” between “forever” and “Lauren”; “Loving Lauren” was the phrase on the blue livestrong-style bracelets made to raise money for the Lauren Candler scholarship fund, and to remember her by. Someone else that knew her and loved her had been there; that made me happy. After Lauren died Sam and I wanted to make some kind of jewelry to remember her by, something more permanent than a livestrong bracelet. I looked up different designs, but we never got around to doing it. Instead I cut out millions of photos of Lauren that I took on Homecoming night. I brought them to school and gave them out to people who knew her; I still have one in my wallet. I printed a really small one and cut it to the shape of the inside of my locket, and used special glue to hold it in place. I started wearing that locket all the time. I still wear it, every day. It’s more for me than anyone else. Sometimes I go through phases where I wear different jewelry, not because I don’t want to remember her, just because I want to wear different jewelry. I used to like it when people asked me about my locket, but now I’d rather people didn’t. It usually comes up during small talk or some kind of fun event, and if I say “That’s my friend Lauren, she died my sophomore year” the reaction is always a mixture of sadness, sympathy, and awkwardness because they don’t know how to respond. Most usually they just say “Oh, I’m sorry…”, but I don’t wear the locket to be sad, I wear it to remember her. It’s a happy memory. So now if someone asks I usually just say that it’s a picture of my friend Lauren. Every once and a while I’ll open up the locket, and the other day I noticed that the color in the photo is starting to green around the edges. I might have to replace the picture soon.

This locket has sparked a lot of creativity for me. Not only does it hold a picture of Lauren, it is from my mom, who got it from her great-aunt. It’s a family heirloom, and one of my most prized possessions. It’s probably not worth a lot in terms of money, but it’s worth a fortune to me. I wrote my college essay about it, I wrote a poem inspired by it, and many other things. I’ll probably post those next.

Lauren Playlist

The other day I was thinking about Lauren while I was going through my music, and so I made a playlist of songs that remind me of her for whatever reason, or songs that have simply helped me deal with trauma in my life. This is the list and the reasons behind them.

1. Danny Boy – This was the Eastern Regions song in 8th grade. This is when Lauren and I really started to be friends.

2. Reflection – Christina Aguilera (We sang this song together at the 8th grade graduation party. Practicing for this was when we started to really become close. I remember the day we sang it in front of everybody; we did really well. We were the only people who took the karaoke seriously lol.)

3. My Immortal – Evanescence (to be part of the soundtrack to the movie made from Lauren and Sam’s book. She was really excited because they hadn’t even finished the book yet but she was already imagining it being turned into a movie…)

4. Hamster Song – At Lauren’s before homecoming Sophomore year we were goofing off on her computer and she had this song stuck in her head. We listened to it about five times in a row and laughed and laughed.

5. Held – Natalie Grant (This song helped me get through Lauren’s death. It comforted me and let me know that I could get through this. It reminded me that I had my faith and Lauren did too, and that maybe there isn’t an answer, not one that I’ll find here on earth. It reminded me that I have God to turn to and that I am not alone in my suffering.)

6. For Good – Wicked (Wicked was Lauren’s favorite musical.  I remember her talking about it in school one morning and telling me that one of our friends didn’t like it, but she thought that it was only because they hadn’t listened to it yet.)

7. Seasons of Love – Rent (Chamber Choir sang this my sophomore year in the Spring, in the Pops concert that Lauren would have been singing in.  It was also the finale sang at the concert. This song gives me hope and just reminds me to appreciate the time I have in life and to live it to the fullest. Lauren lived her life like that. And I’m grateful for the time I had with her. “Give love, spread love, measure your life in love…”)

8. Wanting Memories – I love this song; I sang this in Chamber Choir last year. At one of our first concerts of the year, Mr. Hammond asked us to think more about what this song actually means, to relate it to our own life. Then it hit me that this song really relates to me and Lauren. Ever since, I always sing this song for her. Not all the lyrics fit the situation, but the general feeling and the lyrics of the chorus are perfect. “I am sitting here, wanting memories to teach me to see the beauty in the world through my own eyes… Since you’ve gone and left me, there’s been so little beauty, but I know I saw it clearly through your eyes… I thought that you were gone, but now I know you’re with me… I know that I’ve been blessed again and over again…”

9. Wesley, Why? – Matt Wertz (This is a sad song about a friend’s early death, but at the same time it has an optimistic, happy feel to it. I can relate to it because of Lauren, but it doesn’t just make me sad, it lifts me up.)

10. No One Is Alone – In “Into the Woods” I was the Baker’s Wife, and I sang this in the scene where I am comforting my husband after my death, and telling him he will be okay raising our child on his own. The song and themes in it occur many times throughout the musical. It gives a message of hope after losing something. It doesn’t have to be a someone that you’ve lost, it can be anything – hope, love, direction, anything. The melody is beautiful and comforting. This song doesn’t only make me think of Lauren because it’s just comforts me in general, but sometimes it helps me when I think of her.

11. Michael – This is one of the saddest, most heart-wrenching songs I have ever heard. It is sung with so much passion and emotion, and the music even ebbs and flows with the power of the song. Everything about this song is beautiful, from the voices of the guys in the band to the honest lyrics and the way the instruments are played. I cried the first time I heard this song, surprising considering that I never cry. But I think music has a way of opening me up, of experiencing my own emotions but with the help of someone else expressing their own. Art connects to me most strongly when it has to do with these kind of things. Sometimes I find myself getting emotionally attached to ridiculous movies or songs, just because I can relate to one part. When I watched the movie Aquamarine (yes, the one about the mermaid) I got emotional when the little girl got pushed in the pool and freaked out because her parents died from drowning. The rest of the movie is floofy and shallow, but it’s a sad movie to me because of that one, 30 second scene. The next song on this playlist does something similar to me, but much more understandably.

12. Let It Be – The Beatles (This song has always had power over me, but after I saw the scene in Across the Universe it has meant so much more. This song is one I listen to whenever I’m feeling down, and it definitely helps me deal with Lauren’s death. It is not necessarily an uplifting song, but it’s very honest and open, and has a sense of acceptance of things we may never be able to understand.)

13. Blackbird – Another Beatles song. This one has more hope in it, and is really just a message I need to give to myself once and a while. Whether the future be grim, bright, dark, gray, or beautiful, just FLY, "blackbird, fly, into the light of a dark, black night..."

14. In Whatever Time We Have – This song is more about my senior year than about dealing with Lauren, but that’s definitely included in the scope of things this song applies to in my life. Senior year was really difficult, thinking that Lauren would have been graduating with us and would have been singing this song with us. Chamber Choir sang this at the final concert in June, and every time I sang or heard it, it reminded me that I was leaving soon, entering a new world and way of life – college. And leaving good ol’ Ledyard without Lauren moving on with me meant that she really was gone. Now that I’ve been here for a while I’m not as homesick, but sometimes I wish I could tell Lauren about my experiences, and that she could be going through all this too. I wasn’t even home for the anniversary of her death this year, because I was here.

 

 

I made this playlist while I was daydreaming for my FSEM. This is what I wrote about the daydreaming process:

(Daydreaming) I started listening to some music that reminded me of Lauren and then I spent about an hour making a playlist of it all on iTunes and then listened to a few songs on repeat. I was really zoning out, but I wasn’t thinking about anything except how the songs made me feel and how they related to Lauren now and then. After I made the list, then I started second-guessing myself on one of the songs. I put it on the playlist because I thought Lauren and I sang it in chorus together, but when I thought about it more and I’m not sure if we actually did. I hate the feeling that I’ve forgotten; not just that I don’t quite remember and it’ll come back to me, the feeling that I’ve lost something and I can’t get it back. I guess I could look it up on the LHS Music website, see who was in what chorus freshman year. I don’t think Lauren and I were in chorus together freshman year… But at the same time I thought we were in chorus together at one point in high school. But it couldn’t have been sophomore year because I was just in Chamber Choir. I know we were planning on rooming together on the music trip to Washington D.C. that year. And I thought we sang that song together, but really maybe I just told her about it. I know I was in chorus with her in middle school, and we went to Eastern Regionals together. And freshman year she was in Chorale and sang “You’re the One that I Want” for Pops Concert. She thought the choreography was so fun (“Feeeelll your way!”). I wish I could just ask her.

I used to always forget the anniversary of Lauren’s death. I never knew the date. Thanksgiving would roll around and I would know that it was coming, but never exactly when. All I knew was that it happened on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I think now I’ll always remember the number – 22 – because this year was different. Being away at college and not remembering the date was a terrible feeling.

 

Dec. 14th, 2008

Homecoming

  
This photo is from Homecoming night Sophomore year. The picture in my locket is from the same night, a heart-shaped cut-out of Lauren's beautiful smiling face. Lauren and I got ready together. We got our hair done and everything. She was so funny about it, she got her hair done about three different ways until she decided she wanted to keep it that way. We called her fickle; it was a big inside joke. Now every time I use the word fickle I think of that. We had so much fun that night, neither of us had dates so we went with each other. I wore Katie's green dress with my black dress coat. Mary Grace came over and Lauren did her hair - it was gorgeous. We drove over to the school and I kept Lauren's i.d. in my coat pocket so she wouldn't lose it while we were dancing. I never got to give it back to her. I wore that coat to her wake and when I reached into my pocket I found her i.d., right where I left it. For a minute I thought maybe I should give it back to her family, but then I decided to keep it. In the same pocket, in the same coat - it's still there, hanging in my closet. It's my little piece of Lauren, something tangible that I will always have of her. I haven't even worn that coat in almost two years. It's too big for me, out of fashion, covered with lint. But I won't get rid of it because I don't want to disturb or move the memory that it holds. I want to keep it where it is, the closest thing to the reality of that moment. It's a happy moment, and her i.d. in my pocket is proof that she was real, and also in a way proof that her death was real too. I also have some of Lauren's poems that she gave me to read for her. She used to write poetry all the time - she was really good. I was just going through some of them, and the thing that got to me the most, more than the words or the meanings of her poems, was seeing her handwritten initials on the bottom of a page. That was her, a real piece of her, right there. I am a really sentimental, nostalgic person; I keep almost everything. When I left for college and cleaned my room I had to throw out all the flowers I'd ever been given throughout my entire high school career - that's a LOT of old, dusty, crumbly flowers, flowers that for some reason I still saw beauty in, less for their aesthetic qualities and more for the memories they held. Maybe the reason I keep things is to have a physical reminder of my thoughts, my memories, the people that have affected me. The frailty of the human mind scares me; what do we really remember? What of what we remember now will we remember in ten years? Will we even remember it the way it actually happened? How can I hold on to her? I also keep old calenders. I love the pictures and the everyday reminders they hold. Looking at them right now might seem boring, but in a few years those everyday activities, or even special events you marked down, will bring good (or not so good) memories back. I have calenders from the year Lauren died; I've only looked through them a couple times, but knowing that those are from times when I was with her are a sort of comfort. I have a page in an old agenda where I wrote down Lauren's cell phone number, and even though I know I'm not going to call it I still keep that page. (One time this summer, a girl called my cell phone at three in the morning; it showed up as a missed call from an unknown number so I called it back the next day to see if it was someone I knew. When I asked her why she called, she was very apologetic. She said that this used to be her brother's number and he passed away about a month earlier; she hadn't realized his number would have been given away already and she just wanted to hear his voice. I didn't know what to say.)
I meant to go through all the memories of homecoming night, but then I got off on other topics. Maybe I'll come back to this again sometime and finish it up... 

Dec. 7th, 2008

Apple Picking

 I wrote this poem after what would have been Lauren’s 16th birthday. I was driving to my friend Katie’s house and we drove past the apple orchard that Lauren and Sam and I had picked apples at to make apple pie with a couple weeks before she died. I pass that orchard all the time but on that day I remembered its significance, unsummoned the memory overwhelmed me. I wasn’t looking to remember, it just came. At first I was sad, thinking that now every time I pass that orchard I will think of Lauren. But then I realized that that was a good thing, that was a way to make sure I never forget. That’s what I was saying in this poem.


 Apple Picking

Passing Holmberg’s just like any other day,

but today is different.

But why today?

Last week I was fine, even happy, a

pillar of that sad, calming joy

that comes at times.

I want to be sad sometimes. I wish I

thought of her more, that every day

I could have a little tidbit of memory.

Because forgetting would be the worst thing of all.

Remember, every time I hiccup, every time I sing,

every time I find a good book (she had a knack

for picking them out).

Be grateful for that day

passing the orchard,

and my stomach tightened with the weight of her presence.

 

 



February 2006

 

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