Monday, April 28, 2014

The Hole

It's not like I ever forget that Blake died. In fact, I don't think there has been a whole hour since he passed away that something hasn't made me think of him. I'm constantly getting reminders: a song, a phrase, an article of clothing, a place we went or wanted to go... anything, really. And when this happens, I quietly acknowledge the trigger, find him in my heart, say hi, and go about my day.

But every once in a while, something bigger happens and the quiet acknowledgment isn't enough. It's like my body remembers it has a hole it in, right at the center of my heart. What a weird sensation to be able to physically feel something that is seemingly just emotional. But I feel it. I feel it so much that the only thing I can do is stop everything and write.

This morning I received an email from an old classmate of Blake. He described going on Facebook for the first time in a long time just to check up on friends. To his complete surprise, he saw that the smiley, popular guy with a "sensational presence" that he remembered from high school had passed away. He went on to detail his interactions with Blake and why he was such a great guy. He said the usual "I can't imagine what you're going though" and of course sent me "love and prayers."

There have been numerous messages like this throughout the past 11 months, but for some reason this one hit me really hard. I think it was because his shock in finding out for the first time made me remember how truly soul shattering it was for me to find out for the first time. Nothing can prepare you for someone telling you that a person you love- that you are IN love with- is gone. Nothing. You go silent, you ask questions, you deny it, you cry, you gasp for air, you scream, you do a lot of things, but you never forget. And from that point on, there will be a hole in your heart. A hole that will physically hurt when you are reminded.

But somehow through writing, I get the pain to subside. It doesn't fill the hole up or make it go away, but it focuses the hurt and channels it into something clearer, comprehensible... beautiful, even. And that's a metaphor for how I've been trying to live my life since that moment. From that soul shattering moment when I found out that Blake died, to the tiny daily reminders, to the even bigger triggers, every day I attempt to make the pain make sense. I try to use that hole to create a life lovelier than I could've ever imagined.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Still Aching (A Poem)

A heart already broken
            can keep breaking
A shaken soul
            can keep on shaking
A mind so tired
            can keep mistaking
That wounds are healed
when they're still aching

A moment's pause
            can lead to crying
Missing the love,
             remembering the lying
I'm moving on
             I swear I'm trying
But my world falls back apart
thinking of you dying

To really be gone
             and gone forever
To have no chance to hold you
Knowing I can't come to you
              for whatever, whenever
Makes the possibility of getting over this
slim to never

A heart already broken
            can keep breaking
A shaken soul
            can keep on shaking
A mind so tired
            can keep mistaking
That wounds are healed
when they're still aching

Monday, April 21, 2014

P.S. I Love You

Yesterday I turned on the TV and caught the last 15 minutes of the movie "P.S. I Love You." I had seen it before, but I didn't really remember what it was about. All I knew was that the main character's husband died and she was randomly getting letters from him that he pre-wrote to help guide her.

Once I remembered what the movie was about, I almost changed the channel. Did I really want to subject myself to that? Obviously it was going to make me cry, so why torture myself? But something inside me was telling me to put down the remote. So I did.

I guess there was tension throughout the movie between the main girl and a guy. He spent the whole movie falling in love with her, but she was in no place to think about anyone but her late husband. In one of the last scenes, she allows him to read the final letter from her late husband:

I couldn't find a clip of what happens next, but right after he finishes reading the letter to her, she kisses him, indicating that she realized she loves him and is ready to be with him. Then she says, "I can't feel him anymore. He's not here," explaining to this new guy that her husband is gone. She had felt him with her the whole year since he passed away, but in that instant she could no longer feel her husband's presence. She was ready to let go.

Because I like to think of everything as a sign put in my path for some important reason, I immediately started wondering why I turned on the TV to this particular movie, at this particular scene, during this particular moment in my life. What was Blake trying to tell me?

I wish I needed to see this because I'm in the same position as the main character: looking at a man who is completely right for me, but unsure if it's ok to fall in love again. In that scene, the letter was her late husband's way of letting her go and telling her it was ok to open her heart to this other man. But that's not the case yet for me. Instead, I feel like I was meant to watch this to hear the very last part of the letter:

"Don't be afraid to fall in love again. Watch out for that signal when life as you know it ends."

I realized very quickly that I haven't gotten that signal. No guy that I've come across since Blake has made me feel like my life will never be the same again. When I kissed Blake for the first time, it meant something. I didn't know what that kiss was the start of, but I knew it was the start of something meaningful, powerful, life-changing. I got that signal with him, but haven't since.

I was reminded in this moment that it's ok to wait for that. It's ok to be alone and hold out for someone really special. I think I was putting too much pressure on myself to date and prove I'm "normal," which lead me to accept being treated in a way I don't deserve to be treated. I had recently asked Blake for guidance with someone, but I went ahead and ignored what I knew in my heart that I should do. This scene finally got me to realize that if the signal isn't there, then it's not worth it.

But the other, equally important side of this message is that when I do get that signal, I shouldn't be afraid. I will need to be open to it and let myself fall in love again- even if that means that I won't feel Blake's presence anymore. Because after they kiss and she says "I can't feel him anymore. He's not here," it's a scary, but ultimately good thing. It doesn't mean she stopped loving her husband, it just means she's finally ready to let go and fully embrace the rest of her life.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

"Smile" Scholarship

Because Blake loved our high school so much, his friends decided that the best way to honor his memory was to set up a scholarship for a graduating senior every year. Today Blake's mom, a couple of his friends, and I looked through the scholarship applications to pick a recipient.

The description for the scholarship reads:
"The family and friends of Blake Norvell established this $1,000 scholarship in honor of Blake’s passionate, fun-loving spirit and his infectious smile. Confidently riding around in his beat-up mini-van, Blake had the ability to make everyone around him feel welcomed and will be remembered as the “glue” that held Corona’s class of 2006 together. This scholarship will be awarded to a Corona del Sol senior student who most epitomizes the qualities that made our dear friend Blake so special—community leadership, academic acumen and a positive, outgoing personality."

Selecting a winner was a weird experience. As I was looking over the transcripts, lists of extracurriculars, and reading the raps they were asked to write (haha the best idea ever) I started wondering what they were thinking when they applied.

I applied to a bunch of scholarships as a graduating senior, many of them "memorial" scholarships. At the time I was grateful that a family was willing to give me money just for being me, but I never thought deeper about it than that. Aside from the brief description of their lost loved one, I never wondered who that person was, how giving that money to a student was meaningful to them, or why it was an important part of keeping their legacy alive. But today, all of this was going through my head as I was reviewing the applicants profiles.

As I was trying to picture each person's life, I was looking for words, for a feeling that felt like Blake. I wondered if the students who applied knew that I would be pouring myself into every letter, every comma, searching for the man that I miss more than anyone in the world. I was looking for a little piece of Blake within them; a small reminder of who he was and what he contributed to our high school and our lives. 

After about an hour, we picked a winner. Although I'm not sure when or how, she will receive $1,000 of the money raised in Blake's memory. Will she think about Blake when she receives it? Will she be proud that we saw a little bit of him in her? Will she be grateful to be a part of his legacy? Who knows. But what I do know is that even if she doesn't think about or realize these things, we do, and I think that's more important. Being able to give someone like Blake money to help them pursue their dreams means that he gets to continue to help others. And it means that we get to see a little piece of him again.