Thursday, June 16, 2011

The sturdiness of life

One of my best friends passed away in a freak accident on Sunday. This is the first time someone really close to me has died and I realize now that I wasn't prepared for the depth of despair that inevitably comes, leeching every ounce of life and ambition out of you. I've always been really good at moving on. I don't like to dwell on things that make me mad, sad, frustrated, etc...I'm good at picking myself up by the boot straps and pressing on. But not now. I can't escape the endless cycle of thoughts in my head: sadness, anger, regret, numbness, sharp stab of a beautiful memory, repeat.

In physical stature John Fox was small, he had the tiniest hands, even smaller than mine. But in reality, John was a giant of a man. He was a shelter to any he called friend, and that was basically every person he ever met. I can still feel his arms around me in one of his hugs that every one of his friends experienced at some could someone so little make me feel so enclosed, so protected?...but these are things that everyone knew about John. These things are beautiful because of how broadly they were experienced. Here is what John meant to me:

John was the sturdiness of life. He did things simply but not half-heartedly. One of my best memories was birthday dinner at his house a few years back. It was just me, a couple close friends and John's family on a summer night. John's air conditioning was never on in his house, he preferred the windows and doors open, with the breeze and flies coming in and out  all through the evening. It was hot before but even hotter with the oven on. We sat around the table cutting vegetables for shepherds pie. Dinner preparation took forever...nothing was really planned ahead- something that normally annoys me. But with John and his family, we were just enjoying each other's company. We didn't eat til close to 9, sitting on the floor around the coffee table, talking about the ACL line-up. There is nothing remarkable about this memory except the way it made/makes me feel. John made everything feel like home. He made me feel like everything was connected. Everything was meant to be submerged in: the river, family, love, laughter, rain, dirt, pain, life.  John knew how to be fully present in all of those things, and was good at taking other people with him, without them even knowing it. Now that he's gone, I feel like a part of my home is gone.

Will I remember how to be fully engaged, fully submerged in all the beauties of life without him? Why does it take death for us to realize the treasures our friends and family have taught us? And now there's nothing I can do. No amount of remembering him or dreaming about him will change that fact that he's gone. I can read his facebook page obsessively for weeks on end and he'll still never send me a message again. I have zero control over this. What can I do? For now, I can only wait. If death is a part of life then this is something I must be submerged in for a while, letting it's waves break over me as I wait out the storm. Waiting and missing...


  1. Sorry to hear about your friend, Charissa. He sounds like a wonderful person!
    Anne Hobday

  2. I love you and I'm so proud of you for putting these words on here. I think you are right. You just have to wait out the storm, and I'm so glad that even in you saying that I can tell that you still have hope for the time after the storm. Cling to your Hope, and now I'm going to try to be more aware of the treasures that each of my friends is to me, including you and your tender, loving heart.

  3. beautiful! i don't know you, but i was a friend/coworker/neighbor of john's. one night after work we sat around drinking a few beers, and the topic of his small hands came up. then we talked about hands for like half an hour. i forgot about that, until i read this. it made me laugh. thanks for that.

  4. A Beautiful tribute to John- I could feel him in these words. You (and all who knew him) will forever be a better human(s) for having John in your life- the amount of time being cut short seems important now, but in the "big picture" what matters is that you (we) had the time you had. Love Katherine

  5. This is beautiful. I didn't know John well, but I too have felt the loss of a dear friend, and your words on this lightsome being that I only wish I could have known better bring me closer to the memories of my best friend who passed nine years ago.

    Thank goodness we have words to help us heal.

    -Courtney Glenn