Today is July 26, 2006. I'm 24. I woke up this morning at 7:15. I spent the morning putting tarps on hurricane-damaged roofs. For lunch, I had cheese toast and spaghetti sauce. I called my dad today, because this time of year is always hard for him. We talked for a little while, and then I spent the afternoon making enough chili to feed eighty volunteers. I had a staff meeting this evening; I just talked to a good friend on the phone; and now I'm going to go to bed.
July 26, 1992. I'm 10 years old. I've been in a hospital all night long. The nurses keep trying to get me to go to sleep in one of the spare rooms. Instead I wander the emergency room, and spend some time crying and staring at the screen saver at the nurses' desk. Fish swimming across a black background. We're waiting for a helicopter to come take my sister, who is eight, to a better hospital where they're more equipped for this kind of emergency.
After many hours, my mother asks me if I want to go in and say something (and by something I think she means goodbye) to Katy. I'm too afraid of what I'll see, so I send a note inside. Early in the morning, a nurse rushes into her room with one of those cardiac shocker things you see on tv. My parents are crying and holding each other, and I'm asking them what that means.
They send me to stay with my aunt that day, and I spend the morning laying on her couch, listening to her make phone calls over and over to the family, telling them that "little Katy's passed away."
She would be 21 now. What a strange day.
I don't grieve these days any more; the day she died, her birthday, holidays; not like my dad. It's days like this that make me think about my own life. How strangely beautiful life is - even at its most mundane. How great it is to eat toast and spaghetti sauce for lunch, to sweat and work, and fix and build stuff. How nice it is to make a meal for your friends, or talk on the phone with someone you care for, or fall asleep with a fan blowing on your face. To be 24, here and now, alive. It's miraculous and holy. This breath is a gift... and this one too.
It's perspective. It's tinged with sadness, but it's so sweet. It's good to be reminded that I'm alive. And that it's something I should never take for granted.