Monday, September 12, 2011

Dear Jen.

It's been 47 days since you left, and 46 since I heard the news. In the middle of another chaotic Thursday, I got a voicemail from a friend of ours I hadn't seen or heard from in months. He told me I needed to call him back, that it was an emergency. And I knew. My hands shook as I tried to call him, first losing the signal on my phone, then reaching HIS voicemail, in what had to be the worst game of phone tag I've ever experienced. I can never hope to explain how, but I knew it had to be you. I called my boyfriend, then my mother. I drove away from work sobbing, fumbling with my iPod, scanning through the songs until I found one that would remind me of you. I cried at your funeral, and I sat in front of your casket alone when almost everyone else had gone. I wanted to find the words, the right words, to say to you then. They didn't come. I whispered "I love you", blew you a kiss, and walked away.

To most, I've recovered well, whatever that means. No one close to me would look at me and say that I'm still hurting. I promise you, they're wrong.

Once the shock wore off, the initial blindsiding blow to my tidy world, the hurt simply became different, permanent. Real. It's the difference between acknowledging and FEELING that you're gone. The living of my life, moving forward, with the keen and terrifying awareness that whether or not I wake up tomorrow is not my decision to make. The awareness that everything and everyone I love, on this side of Heaven, is simply mine to borrow. It makes me breathe deeper, laugh harder. It makes me want to see more, do more, BE more. It makes the tiny, seemingly insignicant moments so much sweeter. Conversations with my students about the rain, and how it got its name. Text messages from my mom. The man I love with all my heart absently reaching for my hand in the car, just because he can. I want to memorize it, commit it to memory if God forbid I ever lose it. I wish I'd done that before you left.

Still, without fail, I find you stitched into my life. You'd be surprised how often you appear in the stories I tell, how many memories you made for me. You wouldn't be surprised at how often telling those stories still makes me laugh, though never as hard as I did while we lived them. It stuns me, saddens me, and heals me every time I get to speak your name. God willing, I will live my life better now, for me and for you. I will be a faithful wife to a great man. I will be a mother to cute and well-behaved children, just like we planned. I will turn 27, remembering you didn't, but knowing that where you are, you will forever be young, and always be beautiful.

I'll see you there someday. Keep things interesting until then.

Love you forever,


Jennifer Starr Malean
December 15, 1984-July 27,2011

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