Monday, January 18, 2010

Z is for Zach

The passage of one calendar year is but a blink it seems. So much has passed in that time and so many things have happened since the world lost Zach DeRidder. And truly... it was the world's loss.

One of the ways we can know the entire measure of our lives is if we inspire others to soldier on and have them carry your spirit with them. That is exactly what I feel. Your friendship changed me.

Getting that bike signed by Lance, your hero, was the best day for you, so you said then. I look at this picture and am reminded of that day that I remember so vividly. But so many "best days" followed and you celebrated them despite knowing the numbers remaining were few.
I carry so many happy memories of you...because, in spite of all that you endured you lived well. You carried life (and the fullness that comes from living it well) miles ahead of the pain.

Thank you Zach for showing me so many things and allowing me to slow down and speed up all at the same time. Your lesson...cherish life. What a teacher you were.

I miss you, my friend.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

For you Jessica

One might say that teardrops can't bring back a loved one. Yet somehow I think giving voice to the memories you treasure of them can keep them forever alive in your heart. On intuition I believe this is the case of Jessica.

I learned today that the same fashion-minded girl who just two short weeks ago reveled in outdoing me in an ugly sweater contest is gone. She died late last night...and took a piece of my heart with her.

Jessica was a special light among our TLC group, she could dazzle you with her smile...and charm with her simple, blunt humor. She was uniquely straightforward. One would never wonder what she was thinking because it escaped her lips the moment the thought fluttered into her mind. Unfailing honesty, that was Jess.

Many people called her "Sassy" (including me) because that adjective certainly captured her vivaciousness and characteristic spunk. Cancer forced her, like many, to leave behind some mythology that all too often accompanies youth. Such harsh reality was an extraordinary weight for such a 15 year old to be burdened by...but her spunk remained.

It's Jessica that's drawn me back here...because as I sit here tapping out an entry into my my oft' neglected blog the only thought in my head is of Jess. She left in the dawn of a new year she had not even a glimpse of, and with us all wishing for just one thing... a chance for more time.

Jessica was a mover and a shaker, a young woman of action. She liked to dance and she like to move fast. Waiting around patiently wasn't her style. And so naturally when cancer clipped her wings and slowed her down her frustration was clear...and achingly justified. Walls built up...but they were only made to come down.

Rays of light began to dip in and slowly trickle through her wall of protection. She began to let in new friends that lightened her load, eased her into laughter and allowed her the gift of shared experience. Her smiles became more abundant. Her wisecracks were rapid fire. It was obvious she had stolen all of our hearts. Indeed she has made off with them and if that means that she can carry some of our love with her...beyond these earthly boundaries... than perhaps we can be ever grateful for what she took, with our most sincere permission.

I will never forget you Jess... Your memory lives. That etching has been made and not time, nor circumstance can erase it. Any time I dance the Cha Cha Slide and I misstep I will remember your will echo in my ears and run straight to my heart.