My close friend Lauren Candler died on November 22, three years ago. She died of a brain aneurism; everyone thought it was the horse's fault. I bet some people still do. Lauren was the sweetest, most genuine girl I have ever known. One of her favorite things to do was work with the horses at the barn by her house. That's where it happened. The fact that it was a brain aneurysm, unavoidable and unpredictable, made her death even more hard to accept. It was so random and unexpected, it made me feel even more removed from her death because I couldn't understand it.
couldn't understand it.
When I went to her wake, I was confused, scared, shocked, sad, and a bit numb. Mostly, I couldn't bring myself to go up to her casket. I didn't think I could handle seeing her face, like that. I didn't want to remember that. But ever since, I wish I had gone up. I wish I could have seen her sweet, peaceful face and known that it was real. Because, after three years, it still feels like she just left and is still out there somewhere. It doesn't seem like this really could have happened. Maybe I was in too good of a place about all this to believe it. Maybe I thought my level of acceptance of her death was too good to be true. I was - am - sad that Lauren is gone, for good. But seeing how many people loved her, knowing she was a Christian and is in heaven, and thinking of the incredible positive effect she had on my life, I could be happy about it all, in a way. It just felt like she left and wasn't ever coming back, but I didn't feel like it was gruesome, that it was "traumatic", that I couldn't get through it. I never cried, although that's not unusual for me. I never cry, especially when I am the saddest – usually only when I’m frustrated. (But, now that I think of it, maybe I did cry a few times, but I thought it was for other reasons. I didn't realize until now that I was crying for her...). Sometimes I would find myself depressed, though, and then I would think about her. I was afraid that I would forget.
Maybe that's another reason I am making this blog. I want to put out there all the things I never want to forget, everything I have stored and stuffed away in the "Lauren" box of my brain. Sometimes that box spills open and a dusty old memory will suddenly become fresh again - all in the three seconds it took for the person standing behind me in the coffee shop to say the same thing they say every morning, only for me to realize today that Lauren said that same thing to me on one occasion, a moment I hadn’t thought about since… I don’t know when. And the person behind me has no idea they just knocked my box over.
Anyway, I eventually got to a point where I thought I had my box nicely organized and whenever it was opened, voluntarily or involuntarily, I would be happy to remember and the sadness and emotional trauma of her passing was no longer an unbearable ache, more of a warm one. I would say that I am still partially in that place. But a big part of me wants to be sad about it. I want to sob uncontrollably, I want to miss her like crazy, I want to spill all the contents of my tidy box on the floor and examine each part with painful awareness. I want to realize that she’s not just gone forever – she’s dead. - No one really knows what “death” means, but isn’t that what scares us about it the most? This semester at college has made me think about life in a different way. I haven’t given up on my beliefs or anything, it’s just that I realized to a greater degree how little we know about what we think we actually know, and how little we have even explored the things we think there are to explore, especially in my own experience. Flexibility of theory, I guess, but also ignorance. I'm sure I won't know what death is until I experience it myself, so I guess I'll have to wait a while. It happens to everyone eventually, whatever "it" is.
In my freshman seminar we have been discussing the effects of trauma on creativity. We did this exercise where we had to think of a traumatic experience in our life and draw a symbol to represent that. In looking back and searching through all my emotions and memories of things that happened to me after Lauren died, I realized how much I regret not going up to Lauren's casket at the wake. I drew a picture of a casket with the top open but a big rectangle over it so I couldn't see her face. Two days after this class was the anniversary of Lauren's death, the first time I wasn't home for it to put flowers on her grave or drop by to see her parents. I told myself that Saturday didn't mean as much to me anyway, because in my mind I remember her dying on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. But that day was still really hard. On the same day I was helping a friend deal with a death in her family - it was not a happy weekend for me. And the more I found myself thinking about it, the more I realized that I still haven't made peace with this. so that's why I'm here. This is for me, really. I could have just written a journal, I guess, but for some reason I wanted it on the internet. I feel like knowing that others can see this makes me accountable for what I say and gives me a sense of support, whether or not anyone actually reads my posts.
Forever Lauren <3
guess, but also ignorance. I'm sure I won't know what death is until I experience it myself, so I guess I'll have to wait a while. It happens to everyone eventually, whatever "it" is.