Thursday, September 5, 2013

Connecting Through Stuff She Loved: One Tree Hill

So I watched One Tree Hill. It was one of Jenna’s FAVORITE shows. 

All. Nine. Seasons.

It is effing ridiculous.

No really. The first time I watched and it got to the intro, it BURST into laughter. It took a good three, four episodes before I finally got used to it.

Basically it’s about people fucking up and Chad Michael Murray squinting and people making poor life choices to emotional music. Also basketball and brother stuff. And then in the last couple seasons… I have no idea. Still basketball I guess. But also some baseball. And an overly precocious child. The music remained a thing.

There was also a lot of slapping for some reason...


Like... a LOT of slapping... 


Seriously, don't these people know how to use their WORDS?!

But all jokes aside, it was the closest I’ve felt to Jenna in quite a while.

A few months ago, Jenna’s old roommate Paige got in touch with me about a recurring dream she’d for the third time. Jenna kept asking her about me. She was wondering why I wasn’t talking to her as much anymore.

There was more about the dream that shook me to say the least. Conversations Jenna had apparently “had” with other people (that those people had mentioned thinking about on completely separate occasions), even the mention of inside jokes… Stuff that Paige had no way of knowing. It struck me pretty hard.

Because whether you believe what I believe – that it is possible for those we love to find us in our dreams – the overall message was true. I had been struggling to talk to Jenna lately. And apparently I wasn't the only one noticing.

I used to talk to her the way the old guy in Up used to talk to his wife – Just random remarks, a clear picture of her in my mind. Lately that picture is getting a little hazy. The facial expressions she made in pictures weren’t the ones she made with me when we talked. Most of the Jenna from my memory is contained in my own expressions, but I’m never sure just how diluted I’m making her as more and more time comes between my memories and my point of reference.

Conversations with her lately just feel more and more like conversations with myself.

That’s where One Tree Hill came in.

From the few remarks she made about it to me (and her attitude whenever we watched anything she liked and I thought was stupid), I’ve been able to build a dialogue. I know what she’d say every time I rant about something I think is ridiculous. I can make pretty solid guesses about the parts she loved, who she likely crushed on. I’m finally starting to hear her voice in my head again.  I think I actually DID hear her yell "SHUT UP!" when I started laughing at the intro the first time.

But I think the most interesting part about watching or reading things I know she loved is seeing how they must have shaped the way she thought about things in life.

One of the philosophies that Jenna and I truly agreed on is that while experiences and success are important in life, they’re completely worthless without the people you love. What’s the point of building a life if it means sacrificing the people you want to spend it with?

That’s definitely a message reflected in this show. Through all the bad dialogue and ridiculous plots, I will say that I’ve enjoyed the underlying theme advocating the significance of following your dreams, but remembering what’s truly important.

I could also see a lot of the choices made regarding making romance work in the first place reflected in many of the character relationships. It's the idea that shit happens, mistakes are made, but love conquers all. As practical as Jenna could be, I knew her to be a closet romantic. It was always fascinating to watch her romantic experiences because it was like watching echoes from my own life. 

She always said that I was the more patient and forgiving person between the two of us (which is why she was so fiercely protective of me) but the more I really examine her journey, the more I realize that we both had the same capacity for it. Hers was just more selective than mine.

Love was always the bottom line for us. And we would be DAMNED if pride or stupidity or the poor choices of others got in our way. Watching One Tree Hill, I could see so much of that attitude underneath the drama. Maybe the reason the show bugged me so much is because it's hard to look back on your past and who you were before you knew better. I know that she would have grown from her experiences. She was always less actively self-reflective than I was (she was never as comfortable with her feelings as I was), but she was more intuitive about things like that. And we had each other. I was always there to force her to look at the things that motivated her and why, while she helped me let things just... be. A thing that's very difficult to do for me.

I really miss that.

I have to say, it was also pretty interesting to look at the way a television show like this handled death (particularly unexpected death) and especially grieving.

There were a couple of them on this show and I have to commend them. It seemed like they really wanted to make sure they got it right when it came to that experience. It's pretty clear that One Tree Hill strived to be a show that spoke to teenagers. Sometimes the speaking TO them was a little too obvious, but they didn't half ass important stuff like some other shows who fill that role do.

Television is one of my favorite story-telling mediums WHEN IT'S DONE WELL. It has all the visual techniques of a movie when it comes to evoking emotions, but the structure of the way a story is presented is completely different. On one hand, episodes are so much shorter than movies and must have a beginning, middle, and end. On the other hand, there's the season. And the series. And each of those measurements contains its own story that needs to be told. So if you want to dedicate an episode to a death, that's what the episode is about. But in the scheme of the season, that death can be a plot point. And in the scheme of the series, that death could be part of an overall character arc. Multiple layers, you see. And it's also unique in the scheme of a television show because often, you've gotten the chance to either get to know the character that's lost and/or the characters who are left behind. It so much closer to experiencing a life event WITH them rather than watching it unfold from the outside.

That I think is what makes watching the way the grieving process is presented especially fascinating. Not all television shows do this. A lot of them acknowledge, but mostly skim over the grieving process. It's understandable for a variety of reasons, especially if the show is more action driven than character driven or if the context the show is taking place in makes death commonplace (GAME OF THRONES O_O) and the characters are reacting accordingly. But when they actually take the time to dedicate an episode to what it means to experience a loss...

You know what? I think I’m going to put a more extended post together on all that. Put that on my endless “to-do” list when it comes to this blog.

Back to One Tree Hill...

All in all I was glad I watched the show. I can still have conversations with her. I just really miss asking questions I don’t already know the answers to. But maybe that’s only because it’s not an option anymore.

If any of you guys remember watching this or any other show with her, please feel free to send me your random thoughts and stories. They don’t have to have a beginning/middle/end. They can just be random things you remember her saying about the show.

The one thing I remember she said about it when I caught her watching it once or twice was that Nathan and Haley were “like the cutest couple ever.” Watching it now, it makes perfect sense. I can see a lot of Jenna’s ideals when it comes to relationships reflected in theirs. Though I always thought she was more of a Chad Michael Murray fan… I don’t remember.

This is basically the first five seasons in a nutshell...

And me? Chris Keller. Hands down. Also Dan Scott. I didn't have a thing for either of them (they were pretty much terrible people), but they were pretty much the reason I watched the show.

That last season had some serious drama.I was actually really worried that she hadn't gotten around to watching it that spring before... and she missed it... 
But I heard from Heidi that she, Jenna, and Gretchen had "study dates" once a week to watch the final season together (and not do homework). That made me happy.

Because it was actually pretty good.

YEAH I SAID IT. Whatever.

Life After Death: My Thoughts on Souls

Here it is! The follow up! Told you I'd get to it eventually!

Some time ago, I posted an entry talking about my beliefs about what happens in our last moments. It was basically my definition of what our personal heaven must be. Today I’d like to expand on that idea and talk about what I think happens to us after those last seconds of consciousness.

As I’ve stated before, I’m definitely not an atheist. However, I cannot call myself “religious” either. The closest thing I am to a label is an agnostic. I don’t rule anything out. I’ll say a prayer, I’ll get my chakras aligned, I’ll pay attention to my dreams, and sometimes I’ll address “God” or “the Universe” depending on my mood.

I believe that science and faith are NOT mutually exclusive. In fact, I believe they strengthen each other (as I mentioned in my first entry about these philosophies).

 I believe in the mysteries of the universe. I revel in the undiscovered. And I find divinity in existence itself and I think it is perfectly possible to be the most insignificant and significant thing in the universe at exactly the same time.

I can no longer connect to any specific religion because when I really consider the scale of the universe, how much we have discovered in our short time on Earth, and how much we still have to learn, I can’t help but find the assumption that we have even come close to figuring out what “God” is (much less what he “wants” from us) laughable. The desire to be a good person shouldn’t be rooted in fear of punishment or hope for a reward in the next life. The more good you put out, the more likely you are to get good back FROM OTHERS. The universe owes you nothing, but it’s still worth putting out those good vibes. ESPECIALLY when bad things inevitably happen. Life isn’t fair. Bad things happen to good people, but those good people are going to have far more help getting through those bad times than the people who do not live their lives well.

Now I must add that I also do NOT begrudge people their religion either! In all this chaos, it’s perfectly understandable that a community that all believes the same thing can make you feel a heck of a lot more secure. Some people also need more rigid moral guidelines laid out for them. There’s no crime in craving structure in your life from an outside force if you struggle with it internally. And who knows? You could be right. As long as your beliefs aren’t a vehicle for hate, live your life in whatever way makes you happy.

I’ve just built something out of what I know and what I’ve experienced. They’re constantly evolving. I don’t like to rule anything out.

Also this is my blog. I'm not telling anybody what to believe.

So I’ve already talked about what I think happens in that moment right before the power shuts off—My idea of “heaven” so to speak. But what happens after that?

A while back, when this whole thing happened, my brain kind of went into philosophical overdrive. I just couldn't connect to the idea of traditional heaven and I sure as hell wasn't satisfied with the idea that this was all we get. But the fact that "one shot and done" just made me sad wasn't a good enough reason for me to believe in something. So I decided to take what I did know and figure it out from there. I started looking for answers outside of religion or even spirituality. I needed something concrete to start building my thoughts. 

That’s when I stumbled across this quote:

I found this to be profoundly beautiful. To have out scientific imprint laid out like that pushed me into a realm of thought I hadn’t yet considered. I took this idea and expanded.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

Someone I love very much once told me, “People say that God is love, but I believe that love is God.”

I think that everything that’s capable of love has a soul. Love is the ability to put the comfort, survival, and happiness of another being ahead of your own. It is the opposite of our most basic biological instincts. It is proof that there is more to us than electrical signals and chemical releases.  Science has yet to account for every atom making up our body or the brain’s function. Even computers have ghosts. I find it completely unfathomable that something like our human minds have existed and evolved for this long and haven’t manifested some kind of… Something extra.

I know my theories probably wouldn’t hold up in a peer review or whatever, but as far as I’m concerned, there’s enough evidence to support it and not enough evidence to dispute it.  So… Imma go with it.

For the purposes of simplicity, I’m going to call those unaccounted for pieces “soul particles.” 

Still with me?

Alright so assuming that this is true (which I have no idea if it is), here’s what I think happens next. After that split second when we have our personal experience with “the afterlife.”

One of the most important rules of physics is that energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed or moved.

Based on that idea, I believe that once our bodies (or our casing, as I like to call it) it completely shut down and no longer processing, all that energy has to go somewhere. So our soul particles are released back into the world around us.

Now energy and particles can get into habits. So I think that for quite some time, those particles remain drawn relatively together (like a core consciousness), and are also drawn to the people and places that hold the most significance to them (or perhaps those who THEY are most significant TO). The way an antenna picks up a radio signal.

I believe that these particles will likely start separating after a while (while remaining connected to their “consciousness” in some way), but I feel like it's likely that when they first start out, they clump together and maintain the essence of what it would be like to be alive, simply because that's what they're used to. Why do I think this? Well... My roommate totally got haunted the night of Jenna’s funeral when he stayed over in our farm house. Without going into too many details, he woke up in the wee hours of the morning to the cat acting bizarre. He then heard a voice whisper to him. Not in a threatening way, but more in a… sassy way (his words). What it whispered, I don’t really care to go too much into detail with everyone who reads this blog, but let’s just say it was an inside joke between her and me and a few other people that my roommate did NOT know about. He mentioned it to my boyfriend on their ride back home

So yeah. For a while, they may maintain some traits of their behavior when they were all cased together, but after a while, I think the particles feel more comfortable branching off. After all, as I mentioned before, they're drawn to ALL the people and places that held them close. It would probably be more convenient to embrace the ability to be multiple places at once.

So after a while, our interactions with our loved ones soul particles become more and more specific to us. Because we're now just getting pieces of them. The pieces that were associated with those people or places. Does that make sense?

So for example, in the cases of most supernatural occurrences or “hauntings,” the “spirits” are often reported to be caught in some kind of pattern or have very limited wants. This isn’t because these are souls trapped with one thing to accomplish. I think it’s just a piece of a soul. Like a piece of code.

Meanwhile, dreaming about the ones we’ve loved and lost has been incredibly common across the board, but sometimes people have reported getting information eventually verified as true that they couldn’t possibly have known. In my experience, I’m pretty sure that I’ve noticed the difference between when you are dreaming about that person you love and when a person you love has entered your dream. So that’s where that comes from. Maybe the soul particles are drawn to you and get filtered through your brain and influence your waves… Or something.

So it’s stuff like that. Energy that interacts in subtle ways, maybe influences your mood, the weather, your choices, who knows? Maybe some of them even seep into you and bind with the soul particles you already have. If that’s the case, maybe everything you do from now on, they get to experience with you.

AGAIN, THIS IS PURE CONJECTURE (with a touch of babble). I’m not a physicist, I’m just someone who knows some stuff about physics. I’m not a theologian, I’m just someone who’s thought a lot about this and doesn’t sleep much anymore. I’m sure there is plenty of research to support or argue against these theories. This is just what I’ve come up with and I like it.

So yeah. That’s what happens to your soul particles—At least as long as they have an anchor to hold them together. I think that once all the people you loved die too, you have less of an incentive to hold yourself together and eventually your particles start to drift.

Now this next part doesn’t even have any science-ish stuff to back it up. This is pure guesswork.

So I think that once your particles start to drift, they mix in with other particles to form NEW souls. It’s not always evenly distributed of course. Maybe that’s why some people feel connections to past lives and others don’t – They have a clump of soul particles that stuck together that have some sort of memory. Maybe that’s why some people feel connected to others after only meeting them for a few minutes – Maybe we can detect familiar particles – A piece of our former selves.

The girl I nanny, Alyssa, also said something pretty interesting about souls. We like to talk about alternate universes sometimes (you know, typical small talk) and when we were first examining the possibilities of what would happen if a change in the timeline caused her to never be born. She just shrugged and said, “Well yeah, maybe not in THAT body. I’d be born somewhere else.”

That struck me: The idea that our souls aren’t tied to just one predestinced body...The idea that our souls are just waiting for a body to make its home – like we’re waiting to catch the right train. In some ways that makes perfect sense. Perhaps the souls that are extinguished too quickly, before they’ve had a chance to make a large number of ties to make them linger, get eager and just try again. The implications a belief system like that could have when it comes to infant death, or especially miscarriages (which I’ve learned through investigating various grief support groups is a very unique, complicated, and difficult grieving process), opens up a huge realm of comfort, perspective, and new philosophy.

I didn’t go off on this tangent to her of course. We had chapters to read and art projects to finish. But this is just one more example of why I love hanging out with this child (more in depth tangent on that in progress).

So there you have it: My completed theory of the afterlife.

Interestingly enough, whenever I’ve talked to any other person who has suffered an abrupt and traumatic loss who isn’t particularly religious, they seem to have come to very similar conclusions I have. I don’t know what that means, but… like I said. It’s interesting.

I know this probably won’t appeal to the religious OR the scientific demographics reading this blog (I like to pretend more then seven people read this, isn’t that cute?), but it’s what stuck. With a loss so traumatic and horrible and everyone being so damned understanding, I get really paranoid about when I’m being patronized. I think maybe that’s one of the more… underlying things that has driven me to find a theory about the afterlife that’s actually rooted in facts as well as faith. I don’t want to feel like I’m just trying to lie to myself to get through this.

I dunno. As I’ve said before, I find so much divinity in existence itself. Actually being able to prove something doesn’t make it any less wondrous. Having an idea that’s appealing and comforting doesn’t mean it’s probably a lie. And just because we have some answers doesn’t mean we’re even close to finding all of them.

Some romantic part of me hopes we never do.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Back in the Air

So I know I haven’t posted in a while. I guess that’s for a lot of reasons.

The first and foremost is that these blog entries take a LOT of time and energy. My body has gotten into some seriously bad habits and energy is no longer something that is willingly distributed throughout more than one or two things a day. I need to learn to budget my time again. I haven’t had to in quite a while. It’ll be a welcome effort.

The second is that for the past few months, I’ve been much emotionally stable yet depressed at the same time. By that I mean I’d stopped having frequent crying fits and I was making an effort to get back into a routine, but found myself hindered by ridiculous sleeping patterns and distressingly low energy. This resulted in waking up too late to take my meds, but continuing to stay up too late to fix the problem. It’s all been a big mess.

Basically… Doing anything outside the pattern I’ve gotten myself into is still really hard.

A chart to illustrate, courtesy of Hyperbole and a Half:

There are several other reasons that I could list, but none of it really matters. Because the fact is that I need to write, whether I feel like it or not. I really appreciate certain people for reminding me of that recently.

My room is clean. I have a new job. The girl I babysit in my other job is forcing me outside almost every day. And now this post is up. Let's keep this momentum going!

So here are some upcoming posts you can look forward to:

  • A recap of our experience at the Humane Society Dedication
  • My relationship with The Little Prince
  • Jenna’s relationship with our pets
  • Guest Post from Amanda Sorensen
  • How a 9 y/o girl helped me more than any grief counselor ever could
  • Jenna and Tennis
  • Jenna and Games in general
  • Grieving and the Internet
  • Physics and Afterlife theories

Some of these are already half finished, others I’ll need your help on!

For now, I’m just going to tell you about these past few months. Get you up to speed with some emotional rambling.

We got through Christmas, then it was off to Colorado to ski with my boyfriend’s family. I must say, there were a few moments on that trip that would definitely shape the upcoming months.

The first was that I realized how hard it was to watch my boyfriend interact with his brother. I had met Pavel before and he’s a great guy. Although he’s my sister’s age and they share quite a few things in common, it was more the dynamic between him and Dashi that brought a lot of emotions to the surface.

The second was meeting a young man in the complex’s hot tub who had recently lost his brother to an abrupt death. I remember the relief I felt talking to someone who really understood what it was like to lose a sibling before they were supposed to. What struck me the most, however was how interesting it is that every time I talk to someone with no strong religious ties about death, they all seem to be converging on very similar theories about the afterlife and what our presence in this world means. More on that in a later post.

The third event was breaking down one particular evening and feeling calmed when Dashi started asking me questions about what Jenna’s sense of humor was like (there’s a point to me mentioning this, I promise).

The final event that I think really struck me the most was a very honest conversation with Dashi’s mom, Marina. I asked her if I make people uncomfortable with the way I talk about my sister. She told me, yes. Sometimes. Especially since I often still referred to my sister in the present tense. Even though it’s clear that it’s just a way of dealing with my pain, it can be off-putting to people who aren’t used to dealing with, much less talking about death.

Marina has always made efficient use of her second language, that's for sure. She doesn’t mince words, but she also has an underlying empathy that makes even the bluntest statements possible to process. Which is good. Because I needed to hear it.

People may jump to my defense saying it shouldn’t matter how those other people might feel, but it does. And I’m truly grateful to Marina for her honesty. It confirmed what I was already beginning to notice and hearing it out loud decreased my chances of rationalizing not moving forward. For the last several months, I would talk about my sister to anyone who would listen and didn’t care whether or not they felt comfortable with what I had to say, because it wasn’t about them. And that was okay. That moment, however, made me realize that I was finally at a point where I was starting to care how I affected other people again. It was bittersweet because although I felt slightly embarrassed, it also meant I was in a new phase of grief. I was becoming emotionally aware of the world around me again.

This realization played a role in the next few months.  As I began reconnecting with the rest of the world, I became more and more aware of the fact that the world was moving on. It still is. This is not to be confused with “moving forward.” Because I know those of us this loss has affected profoundly are certainly doing that. My moments of happiness have become far more frequent and my emotional outbursts (with the exception of this past month) have become far less. But it’s not the kind of thing that ever goes away. It’s not like a breakup where you can realize all the reasons you weren’t right for each other, learn from it, and find a better one. It’s not like losing someone who you know has lived a full life. There’s not really any kind of spin you can put on it to make it okay. It’s not something you would want to “get over,” even if such a thing were possible. You just have to rebuild yourself around it, and that takes time. I’m still feeling it. So it’s difficult to watch the people who are less directly connected moving further ahead than I am and even harder to feel the people who were only connected by-proxy let it go all together.

So many people are sort of “over” the whole situation.  Not in a callous way. Nobody has expected ME to really be "over it" and plenty of people are still WILLING to listen, but it’s in a, “Oh okay. We’re talking about this again,” kind of way. They will sit and listen and be there for me, but there’s no connection. No investment in what I’m saying. They’re just going through the motions. And as much as the effort is appreciated, the result is that something that used to give me relief is now causing me anxiety and frustration. So… That kind of sucks.

But it’s not anyone’s fault! As I’ve mentioned countless times before, most people simply have not suffered this kind of loss in their lives, so it doesn’t occur to them how long this process will really go on and how much I actually still need support. Time is relative. It SHOULD be irrelevant and we shouldn’t base our lives on a timeline, blahblahblah… but that’s how most people think and it’s come up more than once in various discussions during my grieving process, so I’m accepting and addressing it. And those who haven’t experienced a particular loss firsthand experience the passage of time differently. Often, it doesn’t occur just how little time has gone by when you really think about it and more importantly, what that amount of time means in relation to the loss suffered.  Even those who have experienced loss beyond a grandparent or a breakup have still experienced a different KIND of loss. So it’s still hard to understand what that person might need without being told directly or making a huge effort to imagine what their loss might feel like – Which most people simply aren’t comfortable doing. Understandably so. It’s awful.

Not to mention, everyone has their own stuff. And you can't compare the magnitude of problems or pain outside the immediate time bubble each event occurs in. A friend will do as much as they can to be there for you, but eventually, their own stuff will always catch up and overrule yours. It's NOT because they don't care. It's just life.

So I get it. I understand why, now that the shock of it all has worn off, many people I'm close to are struggling to continue offering the kind of support I want and need. But the fact that nothing's to blame doesn’t really make it suck any less. This past month leading up to the year mark has actually sparked a new wave of consideration and thoughtfulness which has been much needed and appreciated, but I don't expect it to last. I need to learn to fly on my own again. It’s just difficult to adjust your expectations of the world around you. I’m still working on it.

I want to make sure I add that there ARE a few people in my life who still DO make a conscious effort to be there and support me on my road to recovery and despite not sharing these experiences directly, have been making a conscious effort to connect to what I'm going through. Especially once I was actually able to articulate what I needed out loud. You know who you are. The gratitude I feel is… indescribable (she typed, after sitting at the computer for a solid two minutes trying to think of the right word… Haha). This is not the last time I will be mentioning you.

It’s weird when I think about it though, because as much as I talk about Jenna and what I’ve been going through, there’s an odd disconnect I feel from her. I talk about her all the time, but most of the time, there’s a wall up. I don’t feel like I’m talking about Jenna. I feel like I’m talking about… “Dead Jenna.”

Oof... I winced as I wrote that, and I had a gentler phrase all typed out, but I want to make sure that the separation is clear. For the most part, they feel like two separate entities. This is likely a coping mechanism I developed for the sake of my sanity. When I really think about the idea that they're one in the same, the depth of my loss becomes infinitely more pronounced.

During the month of April, however, the wall came down more and more often at especially inconvenient times. Like driving. That was the worst. But what really got to me was that even though these moments were still painful every time, I'm starting to get used to it. I’m starting to get used to the idea that my sister is dead (wince again). That feeling is continuing to creep up on me and makes me increasingly uncomfortable. I don’t WANT to be used to her being gone. I feel like once I’m “used to it,” it makes it okay. And it will never be okay. I know that logic is tragically flawed, but I just don’t think any amount of perspective will make me okay with reducing her to an afterthought. On the other hand, the fact that Jenna is now such an active driving force in my life enhances the feeling of the separation between the sister I had and the sister I’ve lost. Her and my relationship was always so much more subtle. It was an underlying constant. I really miss that.

That’s what it all comes down to, really. These feelings of sharp pain will balance themselves out after enough time passes. Pretty much anything broken in the body mends with enough time (though, as I’ve previously mentioned, setting the break properly and therapy is required for it to heal properly). But missing her is only going to get worse.

It’s been over a year since I’ve spoken to my sister. It’s been even longer since I’ve seen her.

And I don’t even want to think about what was going on a year ago today.

Now that I think about it, most of you shouldn’t either I shouldn’t have brought it up so STOPPIT!

Srsly. Cut it out.

Think about something else. Here's Jenna in a shark hat:

There. Was that helpful?

There’s a reason I didn’t post this blog entry on “the day.” I didn’t want it to be a thing. I don’t want that day to be commemorated. I would much rather recognize her birthday. But that's just a personal choice.

My point is that the fact that I haven’t seen or spoken to my sister in X amount of time is never going to get easier. She was a relationship that was only growing more and more positive and active. I think the moment that really sums this up is Jenna’s spring break last year. She went down to Florida with my folks. They hung out, just the three of them and went to the midnight showing of The Hunger Games together. One evening during her time down there, I called her just to chat and we ended up spending over an hour on the phone playing Draw Something and Words with Friends, not saying a word for at least two-thirds of the time, but not hanging up.  The sibling rivalry was over. The teenage angst was over. The menopausal years were over (yeah that’s right, Mom… I’m including you in this too. Poor Dad. During those years, I just imagine him like Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt strapped to that pipe at the end of Twister – Waiting for the F5 to pass over). We had grown into a family that just... genuinely enjoys each other.

Recently, a really lovely woman pulled me aside to tell me that she interviewed my sister for her job at Ruffin’ It Resort. When asked about any conflicts for the summer, Jenna mentioned how she was going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with her family in May. The woman wanted to tell me that she was struck by how excited Jenna seemed to be at the idea of hanging out with us. She said it was really nice to see someone her age who truly enjoyed spending time with her family. That was such a nice thing to hear.

I’m grieving the loss of not only what we had, but also what I know we WOULD have had. I know my parents are experiencing the same thing. Everything had been wonderful so far, but things were just starting to get even better. 

And it’s not fair.

*sigh* I just miss her. 
So I want to talk about her.

As I write this, I realize that the discomfort or “waining interest” (I say this for lack of a better word) I seem to be encountering when I talk about this to people doesn't only apply to “the death stuff.” I realize that (with the exception of the like... last two weeks because… yeah) all I really want to do lately is not talk so much about what I’m going through or my loss. In fact, I’m actually a little tired of all that too. I just want to talk about Jenna. I want people to ask me questions about her, be interested in her. I want people to know her. But even when I share Jenna stories, the reaction I get most often is sort of a “Ha… Well I guess you had to be there” sort of reaction.

And AGAIN (imagine me getting more animated as I say this because I’m getting a bit ruffled in that way that I do), that totally makes sense! It’s nobody’s fault that I’m having difficulty getting what I want out of the rest of the world!  Most people have a difficult time connecting with stories about people they don’t really know, even without the whole “death thing.” Many of the people I'm close to in my life didn’t actually know Jenna, or only met her once or twice, or at the very least did not know her the same way I did. So it’s hard to invest themselves in a conversation with little to contextualize it. And many of the people who DID know her don’t know ME that well.

Some of these people have reached out to me or I’ve reached out to them over this past year, but it’s difficult enough to build a friendship on these kinds of circumstances without it feeling forced, never mind the fact that pretty much all of them live in a different state than I do. But as I reflect on my relationship with Dirk and how much we’ve both gotten out of it (and still are), I really hope that Jenna’s friends and I can make more of an effort to connect from now on.

Regardless, the desire to shout Jenna’s name from the rooftops and share who she was when she was alive has been growing increasingly insistent.

Just one more reason recommitting to this blog is so important.

Which brings me back to one of the events I mentioned in Colorado: Dashi asking about my sister’s sense of humor calmed me down during a particularly difficult evening. So if you didn’t really know Jenna and ever want to show your support for what I’m going through but aren’t sure what to say, just ask me a question about who she was. At this point, I really just want to talk about Jenna, not “Lost Jenna” (that’s my gentler term, though I know it sounds kind of silly). If you DO know Jenna, tell me something about her. Anything. Any time. It doesn’t even have to be a story. It can simply be a random fact or association.

One of my greatest fears associated with the idea that the rest of the world is moving on is that I missed “my window” to get the most out of this blog.  I hope it's not true. A year has gone by, but I hope that no matter how much time passes, Jenna’s friends will still care enough to read this blog and most importantly, participate in it. I seriously cannot do this without you guys.

Thank you to the people who are still reading, and especially thank you to the people who wanted to continue to do so. You reminded me. It’s difficult to force myself to do even the things that make me happy and are good for me these days. Your interest and encouragement has given me the necessary push. So here we go.

We’re back in the air.