For Emilee

We all say:
A year flies by….
A lot can happen in a year….
What being away has showed me is how much can be done in a year if we make the effort. And what out of that ‘lot’ that happens actually matters.

It’s a bit interesting what actually doesn’t impact you…break-ups, make-ups, and the fluff in between. Perhaps more interesting are the big things, grandparents sick, missed holidays, and natural disasters that you acknowledge, but that you are quick to accept that you cannot change from near or far. From those moments when you see the strength of those suffering to encourage you to stay travelling, and your own ability to provide support via the beauty of the world wide web, it is a very sweet silver lining.

What I find to be most worth noting is the unexpected impact certain things have; the out of the blue shocks or the little changes that seem to overstay their welcome in the back burner of your mind.

Earlier this week I finally got on to the internet and was met with the shocking news that a friend from high school had been killed. She wasn’t a close friend, we hadn’t actually spoken much since high school, and it took some serious digging to find the people that knew what happened…but I was devastated. I still am. She’s not the first person I’ve known to die, and arguably more personal disasters have happened this past year, but I sat on the Swakopmund coast in Namibia dumbfounded for hours yesterday, and still today I feel withdrawn.

It reminds me a bit of how I felt crawling over the boulders that line koh-phangan’s coast looking for our friend at yoga training: that glimpse of clarity where you realize full-heartedly what matters and where you need to be for you. I think that this is a bit worse than that time though, mostly because we found him, but partly because of my realized impact of Emilee’s character.

As my tour-mates asked me what was wrong I corrected myself quickly when I said ‘not a good friend’ to ‘not a close friend’ had passed, because even as a passer-by she was a great friend…and oddly that even sounded weird. Emilee had such a positive presence that was contagious to every group she joined from striving athletic teams to her indiscriminate social groups. I haven’t spoken to her in years but I would expect nothing less than to meet her with a big smile and long embrace. I would have given her any time of day without question. I think part of me is beating myself up realizing how easy it is to let relationships slip, and for not keeping in touch with a person I can say nothing bad about. While the other part is recognizing how I would want to be remembered.

I haven’t thought a lot about death lately, which was not the case at the beginning of my trip. I’ve had bad luck in good places, and blindly relied on the good side of human nature in some dodgy ones realizing how beyond my control my fate really is. Not that I want to return to paranoia, but every so often it can be sobering to consider your legacy. How would I be remembered? Would I be? Questions that unlike fate, we are the keepers to the answer.

As helpless as I feel, and as unfair as I feel her passing is, I am at peace with it. I have more than a feeling but a knowing that because who she genuinely was, her soul is safe and will be re-born…and most of all, that she would want us to see how fully she lived in too short a time, to inspire us to live a little more in the days we have in our hand, as for whatever stroke of luck, we have them.

Be free and peaceful, Emily.

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