One year ago today, my friend's six-year-old daughter drowned in Otsego Lake during a church outing.
I attended her funeral. It was beautiful in ways I had not expected. Many shared anecdotes. And because kindergartners say and do some pretty ridiculous things, most of the stories were amusing and sweet. At the end of the service, everyone sang "You Are My Sunshine."
Please don't take my sunshine away.
2009 was mean to my friends. So many really terrible things happened to them, and they're only in their early twenties. A few months before Aileen died, a friend of mine lost both her mom and brother suddenly (which was especially tragic because her dad died in 2007). Another friend's house burned down, and she presented her honors thesis three weeks later, as scheduled. She's unstoppable. They all are.
I know some of the world's most resilient people. They're honest and open; they don't pretend that what they've been through was easy (one of them referred to 2009 as "the biggest pile of shit ever"). But they've managed to keep going, and I admire that so much, because that same year, I freaked out over things that were not nearly as awful as what my friends experienced. (Not that I should compare myself to others: we all have our ways of dealing with things.)
Cheesy as it sounds, all of this made me realize just how much I have. Stealing a line from the late Rachel Corrie, I've just been trying to "act out of love, not anger or ego--especially with political stuff." And I like to think it makes a little bit of a difference. If nothing else, I've got a lot of inner peace and just want to share it with everyone, because it's wonderful.
Last week, a friend (the one whose house burned down, actually) helped me bake a "peace cake" (pictured above). And we shared it with people on the SVSU campus. I left a huge slice with one of my friends and found out later that she shared it with two people I don't happen to like very much. It made my day.
The world isn't perfect. BP is destroying the Gulf of Mexico. People talk shit about each other all the time. But there are incredible people on this earth. And I think we all have the capacity to be one.
I'll close with my favorite line from one of the songs I've been listening to lately.
"At this point in my life, I'd like to live as if only love mattered: as if redemption was in sight, as if the search to live honestly is all that anyone needs--no matter if you find it." - Tracy Chapman, "At This Point in My Life"
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