Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy Birthday, Linds

Say not in grief that she is no more
But say in thankfulness that she was

A death is not the extinguishing of a light,
but the putting out of the lamp
because the dawn has come.

-Rabindranath Tagore

On Saturday I visited my sister Lindsay's grave for the first time in at least three years. Jen and Marlise, former roommates of mine in Washington, DC, have been hearing about Lindsay for years, and since we all met up in Colorado last week, they got to come with me. I loved sharing something so special to me with dear friends; it was almost like I was finally introducing everyone.

I brought Lindsay some lilies -- my favorite flowers because of their strong, sweet smell. I took a moment to trace my finger over the image of the bleeding heart plant on her headstone and looked at the dates under her name: November 18, 1980 - December 28, 1997. She would have been 28 today.

We stood there watching a colorful sunset and I spouted a few memories; then we sat on her bench talking about life and made sure to sing her Happy Birthday before we left.

And I know it seems slightly irreverent to strike a silly pose in a cemetery, but trust me, Lindsay would appreciate it:

The next day, on my way home from church, I couldn't help stopping by the cemetery again. This time, I plopped down cross-legged in front of her headstone and stared at it for a long time. There were some bees crawling around on the flowers, and I watched them come and go, their legs heavy with pollen. I thought Lindsay would have been interested in them, and I wondered what she would be doing if she were still here. I felt the gaping Lindsay-shaped hole in my life, the one I don't think about very often, thought about the confusion and crossroads of my present life, and had a good hard cry for several minutes.

Today, Lindsay's actual birthday, I came home from work and found a candle burning in my room. Next to it was a white mug with blue snowflakes on it and a canister of Stephen's gourmet hot chocolate. And on the bed was a blanket with a yellow note and a yellow bow. It took me a moment to process (and to realize I wasn't being stalked or seduced), but I recognized the blanket as the afghan Lindsay started knitting, with stripes of different colors for each of her friends. It was a perfect, utter surprise, and some combination of a long day, the recent visit to the cemetery, and the unexpectedness of something so meaningful triggered a fresh set of tears. So, since I was already in the mood, I dug out the tape of Lindsay singing "Breath of Heaven" that she sent me just before she died, wrapped myself up in the blanket and listened to her sweet voice.

I don't often cry when I think of Lindsay, and her birthday isn't normally sad for me. In fact, we like to have fun with it. It's been almost eleven years, and it's gotten easier with time, but somehow this year, Linds, I miss you more than usual. Thanks for the blanket. I love it.

Death is not the end
Death can never be the end.

Death is the road.
Life is the traveller.
The Soul is the Guide


Our mind thinks of death.
Our heart thinks of life
Our soul thinks of Immortality.

-Sri Chinmoy


Whitney said...

Cute Allison. I am listening to Breath of Heaven. I just finished reading your post and I am in tears. Part of that probably has to do with the fact that it is harder to keep myself together emotionally at 2am. Anyway, my heart just aches for all of the pain in the world. It doesn't ache for Lindsay because I know she is where she should be and probably knows happiness more than we ever have. However, those she left behind feel that hole--the loss of her--beautiful, wonderful, and full of life. Although I never met Lindsay, I know you. If she was ANYTHING like you, she was a pure delight. What sadness losing that would bring. May we both live better lives each day to ensure that I get to meet her and you get to be with her eternally. What a blessing relationships are. I love you!

Thompson Family said...

Allison, I am sitting here thinking of how to express my feelings concerning this memorial to Lindsay. First of all, know that the love of many people have been and will contunue to be with you and your family as you carry the grief of losing Lindsay much sooner than expected in this life. Secondly, I also was serving a mission at the time of your family's accident. I remember clearly the day that I found out. My mom had called the mission office and asked the mission President if they could inform me of your family's accident and Lindsay's passing. Though I am sure the deep feelings of sadness that I felt pale in comparision to what you and your family experinced, my heart ached expecailly for you and Zach who were so far from home. Though eleven years later I don't suppose this information is of much meaning to you. I wanted you to know that though we were seperated by many miles then as we are now, my love and prayers of joy and peace are being offered in your behalf. I wish you all the best in the decisions and changes you refrenced in your previous entry. Please forgive the long comment.

Rachel, said...

tears in my eyes yet hope in my soul, dear friend of my heart. love you, Allison.

Em said...

Amen. To it all, including the incredibly Lindsay-esque pose at the bench. :) I felt renewed somehow to see pictures of the cemetery and feel that piece of home still intact.
Love her, love you.

Marlise said...

Thanks for letting me share that day with you. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to be there with you. I love you!

matt b said...

This is lovely and sweetbitter, Allison. Which is as it should be, I think.

Wendy said...

Allison-thanks so much for sharing your heartfelt experience, thoughts, and feelings. It reminded me once again of our purpose and the clear perspective. Wishing you the very best, Wendy

Allison said...

Thanks, everyone, for your sweet comments, and for your love and support over the past eleven years. I love you back!