Monday, January 21, 2013

The week that Brittany died.

I don't know if anyone who works for TSA at the Phoenix airport reads my blog. In fact, I'm guessing it's a pretty safe bet zero Phoenix area TSA workers read my blog. But if they do, and if they were the unfortunate person who had to take away my 4 oz. bottle of Neutrogena moisturizer, then ma'am, I owe you an apology. It's just that my friend Brittany died that week, and I had just attended her funeral. I was in a weird place.

I shouldn't have told you how much it cost, or asked you to please get it together with the TSA agents at LAX who had no problem with my 4 oz. bottle of $15 lotion. It's not your fault I like nice things. I was just in a really weird place.

I'm still in a really weird place.

I had just seen Brittany for the last time. But it wasn't Brittany at all. It was Brittany's body and Brittany's hair and Brittany's fingernails painted a color that I'm not sure Brittany would have chosen. And it ripped me apart. I cried. I cried big, ugly, animal sobs and my friends had to hold me.

The last time I saw Brittany was seven and a half years ago at our friend Amy's wedding. She was funny. She was as tall and cool and beautiful as always. We had both just graduated college. She was cracking self-deprecating jokes about not being married yet. (Personally, I was fine with not being married yet because the guy I was dating at the time hated my guts. It would not have been a healthy relationship to solemnize.) Six months later, she was married. I didn't see her at her wedding because I'd already moved to start my new life in Los Angeles.

We started losing touch in college. The forty-five minute drive between Provo and Salt Lake seemed worlds away at the time. To be fair, the writing was on the wall in high school. We and our five closest girlfriends loved each other. We made time for special occasions and girl's nights out. But by our senior year, we started drifting, I think. All of us. Some of us had boyfriends. (Not me ... obviously). I was deeply committed to music at the time. Brittany was committed to her schoolwork (she was our valedictorian). Where we had once spent lunches, weekday afternoons, and just about every single weekend together, we started to find where our own separate paths started and we couldn't wait to see where our life journeys would take us.

Brittany must have noticed us drifting apart, too. On Dec. 31, 2000, our senior year, she rounded us up to fill out a pretty elaborate survey for a time capsule to be opened in 2005. Getting us to commit to this project was a herculean task. Like herding cats. But not normal cats. Cats with asperger's and ADHD. She kept trying to get us to focus. I know she hated us that night. After 2005, getting us together to open the time capsule was like herding hyperactive asperger cats in heat, because everyone was married or having babies or moved far away by then. At that point, the time capsule was little more than a punchline to me. That thing was never going to open. And if it did, it would be like Al Capone's vault. Only way more embarrassing.

After Brittany's accident last April, I didn't think much about the time capsule. I thought mostly about Brittany; how hard she worked, how much she struggled, how much pain she felt.

We finally opened that thing the night before her funeral. It was beautiful inside. It looked like Brittany.

Back at the Phoenix airport, it wasn't really about the lotion. It was about losing things. I'd just lost one of my best friends. My tall, mature, witty, beautiful, brilliant friend. My friend, who at one point in 8th grade, would be the only friend from Bryant Intermediate to accompany me to West High School. My friend who understood my struggles with anxiety and depression because her's were even darker. My friend who asked me help edit her bio for a website where we would raise money so she could walk again. Someone had taken my friend from me. And now I don't have her anymore.

So please, accept my apology. It wasn't really about the lotion at all.

I'm just in such a weird place.

Here are my other posts about Brittany:

So It Goes

There are injured triathlete mamas among us, y'all!


elliespen said...

I still haven't figured out the right words. Much love to you, my friend.

Victoria Blanchard said...

I haven't figured out the right words either. But I read this, and I feel for you and everyone else who has been touched by your friend and the loss of her.

Anonymous said...


Victoria Blanchard said...

I have a thought I want to share, and I really hope it strikes the right chord for you. If it is hurtful in anyway, please forgive me and trust the intent with which I share it. A few weeks ago (sorry for the delay in writing this comment) I was on a road trip and listening to the soundtrack of the musical AIDA. During the song "The Messenger" I was reflecting on your blog post about Brittany's death, and the line "Death is just the messenger, love the truth it brings" really stood out to me. I don't want to minimize the devastation that you or any of her loved ones feel because of her death. That pain is real and worthy. But it seems to me that in response to her death you or others may be finding more capacity for or motivation to express love toward others, and if so, what a perfect way to let her life not to have passed in vain.