As you can all tell- It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, mostly because I didn’t even know what to say or think at all.
You know that feeling you get in your stomach when something big is coming up, you don’t know if you’re prepared, you don’t know if you’re ready, you keep repeating scenarios of what will happen and how to deal with that big moment in your head? Imagine having a really big speech coming up, where you have to tell everyone your life story, even the part when you pee’d your pants in 3rd grade. What if someone asks you a question you don’t want to answer? What if people think you’re weird when you tell them about how sad you were over your hamster dying? Are you going to stutter? That’s the kind of big moment I’m talking about, one that makes your stomach twist and turn and keeps you up at night as if the future of your life depends on this big, huge moment. Finally, that big moment will arrive. It shows up, and suddenly everything you planned is useless. All of that information, staying up late preparing, playing it out in your head- it’s completely different when the big moment shows up. Your body is numb and you have no idea what to do because nothing is going the way you watched it happen in your head for three weeks. You’re stuck in the moment, not knowing how you feel, what to say or what to do.
That was Anna’s birthday for me this year. I spent about a month preparing for December 11th, the day I was to spread the ashes of my best friend’s body around her memorial bench. A bench that I can visit forever, with the ashes of her body spread into the ground around it forever. I spent countless nights tossing and turning, trying to fall asleep, while continuously watching scenarios in my head of what it was going to be and feel like when I went to that bench and spread the beautiful shell of my best friend in the whole world. I had felt several emotions during those nights. Some nights I was angry that I had to spread ashes at the age of 21, I was sad that it was my very best friend in the whole world, I was happy to feel closure, I was lost in the world with no idea what I was going to do next, I was scared of how I would react in front of her family, I was nervous and sad for her Mom and Dad, I was angry at myself for being so worried about how I was going to handle it when they were the ones saying goodbye to their daughter. It was a range of emotions that I couldn’t seem to get a handle on. My head was filled day and night with the idea of what was going to happen eating away at my skull for weeks. Then- it came. December 11th. I stared at my closet trying to decide what one is to wear to spread ashes, especially when it’s only about 40 degrees out. I contemplated for a bit, decided on a perfect cheetah print skirt with a black top- Anna would love it. I packed up and headed to Des Moines. I listened to some of Anna’s favorite songs the whole way, and not a single song bothered me or made me sad- I wasn’t happy, but I wasn’t sad either. When I had planned this big moment in my head, I was sobbing the entire car ride and I wasn’t even sure I was going to make it back to Des Moines. I got off on the exit to go to Anna’s Dad’s house, the only time I ever use this exit was if I was, in fact, going to Anna’s Dad’s house. Mentally, I knew exactly where I was going, but this is when the emotions and anxiety started fluttering in my stomach. As I got closer and closer, make the turn towards her house and seeing the stop sign I had spent several times screaming Korn with Anna, the emotions grew from my stomach, to my lungs, to my heart, to my throat, and eventually made it up to my eyes, where it all just came spilling out. This is one of the few times I really believed Anna was gone, when I was parked outside her house that was filled with her entire family, and she wasn’t there. I got myself together, and in I went. It was so relieving to walk in and hear Carla yell, “YOU GUYS, LOOK SHE MADE IT!” then to see Mark, Dionne, Katie, and Julia all come running up with each with a big smile on their face- it took all of the nerves and pain away. At that point, I wanted to start crying because I was so thankful that all the stress I had just let build up inside me was gone- but instead I just took a deep breath and found some birthday cake. (Typical) After some time of mingling with family I hadn’t seen in a while, it was time. Time to go to the bench and spread ashes. We got in the car, I was trying to focus on my breathing while also making small talk with Mark and Carla and before I knew it, we were out of the car walking to the bench. It was all I could to restrain myself from half sprinting instead of walking to the bench so that I could hopefully stop feeling like I was about to spew my cake all over the bike path. Finally, we were there. A beautiful clearing, overlooking the river and trees surrounding us. My first thought was, “This is so you, Anna.” My second thought was, “Wow, I really don’t have to puke anymore, thank you God.” By the way, none of this is matching up with what I watched in my brain so far. I didn’t have many words when I got there, I didn’t have very many tears, I can’t explain the feeling I had because it was a feeling I have never felt and will probably never feel again. To look around, look at the squirrels playing, the river flowing, the world still going on around me, knowing the shell that incased my best friend’s one in million soul is spread around my feet, keeping me warm in the winter air- it didn’t feel real. It didn’t feel like it could be real. You couldn’t see Anna, I didn’t feel her hand, I didn’t feel like she was touching me or anything weird- I just felt her. Her spunkiness, happiness, warmth, and contagious smile- I felt it all, but it was inside me. I swear I’m not going crazy, not completely crazy anyway. Even I think I’m going crazy when I read the last three sentences, so I know you are all thinking I’m going crazy- but I swear I’m not! Even when Anna was with me, she and I could finish each other’s sentences, knew what the other was thinking and feeling before they said it- and that hasn’t changed. I knew exactly what she was thinking while I was sitting on her bench, I knew exactly how she was feeling and I could feel it too- not because I’m crazy, but because thats how close we are. When you lose the body of someone so close to you, you don’t lose their soul in your heart. I was almost happy to be at that bench, holding her ashes. Yes, I was also begging for her body to come back and just spend one day with her, but I was so encompassed with her love, the love from her family, the love from my family, that it almost made me happy to be there. That moment and feeling passed after about 20 minutes when reality slowly started to set in, but those 20 minutes were just about the best 20 minutes of my life since April 5th, 2014- the day I got the phone call that Anna had died on April 4th.
I guess what I’m trying to say is A) I swear I’m not crazy. B.) More importantly, I learned that when it comes to the big moments in your life- stop planning them. Stop getting worked up over how you want it be and how you think things will go. *spoiler alert* it won’t go the way you want and 80% of the time, because it didn’t go the way you wanted, you will be twice as upset. I’m not saying don’t practice things in your head every once in awhile, but don’t keep yourself up worrying about every little thing that will go wrong. You never know who will be there with you, surrounding you, and keeping you warm- taking away all of your stress, completely changing the plan in your head, and maybe, just maybe, you will have the happiest 20 minutes of your life- if you just stop trying to plan the life God already planned for you. He already has it set up, you can’t change it, you have to trust it.