Monday, April 29, 2013

18- Remembering

I was going to write this a few days ago, but now something else has happened. Only seems fit to do all three in one.

Five years ago on the 27th, my world flipped upside down. I was in the dining hall at UMBC with a few of my friends, when one started talking about how there were police all over her dorm. One of the student's families was there in the common area and they looked upset and were crying. She said it seemed like he was missing, or something had happened. His name came out a few minutes later- Jamie Heard. My heart stopped.

My mind raced back to August of the year before. I was a welcome week leader(a Woolie as they're affectionately called), and I saw an ambulance take off with one of the people who saw after the program- Jamie- inside. I quickly called one of the other leaders and asked him what was going on, as they were good friends. He said that Jamie was a diabetic and he'd been having trouble stabalizing his levels and he crashed. He assured me everything would be fine. I still worried and prayed for Jamie.

Back to April... my friend said it was Jamie, and something in me knew. I immediately got onto facebook when I got back to my room and frantically searched for answers as to what was going on. Then it came... Jamie was missing from an important meeting that morning. He was an INCREDIBLY bright and ambitious young man who had an even BRIGHTER future... he would NEVER miss a meeting. His friends, worried, came to look for him in his dorm, but what they found was Jamie, dead. He'd had a diabetic attack and slipped into a coma- it looks like- and then died shortly after.
The events that followed truly wrecked me. I broke down- totally and completely. This was a person I looked up to. I didn't know him that well, but he was always looking out for the rest of us. He was one of the most genuine people I've ever met, and would always go out of his way to make someone's day. I didn't cope well with the loss of Jamie. Losing him meant there was a HUGE hole in the heart of the UMBC community. It made me think of the day during my Freshman year that he came over to our dorm and all of us made a 'family tree'. Our floor was really close and Jamie was a good friend of a few people on the floor, so of course we included him.

I was the one who had to tell most of my friends. Some didn't know him well, but once they realized who it was, they were a mess. I had a friend who was at a concert, so I asked him to come and find me immediately after he got back.... It was so hard to tell him.... they were buddies. I couldn't stop crying when I was alone, but I couldn't cry in front of people. My best friend was my rock during that time- coming over very late just to sit with until I fell asleep. There was hole in my heart after losing him.

The first thing that came to mind when I found out he died was the song, "It is well with my soul". To this day, that song still brings tears to my eyes.

But, he really made an impact on me. He reminded me that I still have life in me- I need to use it and share the joy he used to share all of the time. His smile always made my day... I realized I wanted to be that for someone.... This statement he wrote really really impacted me and still does today.

“I value life because I realize that too many people waste it. I smile because I realize that too many people cry. I laugh because I know too many people take things too seriously. I lead because too many people have been led astray. I teach because so many people are ignorant. I speak because people need to listen. I listen because so many people have been ignored. I have fun because too many people are always busy. I live for a purpose, because too many people have died for no purpose. I love because too many people show hate. I keep trying because too many people give up. I appreciate what I have because so many people take it for granted. Life is beautiful.”
-Jamie Heard

This week also marked 1 year since the loss of Chantal. I realzied this as I was on the ward and I was hanging out with a patient friend of mine- Mariatu- and one of my best ship friends.... If you don't remember her story, check out my post Chantal .

I remember that night so well... there was a party on the dock with all of our day workers. I knew the day we would lose her was rapidly approaching, buts still, her death came as a shock. I was on the dock, partying it up, but something in me wasn't right. Then, I saw nurse friends of mine come down the gangway crying... I knew something wasn't right...I went to the ward to visit a patient friend and things seemed okay down there.... afterwards, I ran to my friend Becca's cabin, and that's where I found out. At first it was sheer disbelief that she was actually gone. My sweet friend, who I wasn't allowed to see in her final days due to visitor restrictions... gone. I would never hold her hand again, never sit with her through the pain... she was gone.

I went to Deck 8 and broke down. I was angry, confused, and bewildered. The next day was her memorial service on board... it was EXACTLY what I needed... I heard the stories of how she accepted Christ in the days leading to her death, I  heard stories of the day she died and how BEAUTIFUL those last moments were, I heard the story of how she saw Jesus' face as she slipped into her final sleep... simply beautiful. That's when I remembered, sometimes it's best to let them go and be thankful for the time you had with them. Also, you have to remember that God's taken them and they're in a much better place now... at least I knew that for Chantal.

Yesterday I had an INCREDIBLE day with my sweet ship nieces and one of my ship sisters, as I posted yesterday:) But, the day took a turn. I wouldn't let it ruin the beautiful day, but it certainly was tough to grasp.

My sweet friend Carrie was one of the camp directors at Dragonfly Forest. Over Christmastime, I found out she had a brain tumor. I decided then to email her and start talking with her- let her know she was supported and that I was covering her in prayer... I am so thankful for those conversations now. We knew the tumor could over-take her quickly, but I had no idea how quickly.

Carrie was the light of camp for me. She was one of the people I REALLY looked up to. She taught me all of the camp songs during training, she was a constant source of encouragement, and I can truly say that I 'wanted to be like here when I grow up'. She wasn't all that much older than me, but she was certainly a role model for me. In the face of struggles at camp, she always looked on the bright side and helped us push through. She was the hardest for me to say bye to the day I left camp, and now I know why

I was on facebook and kept seeing pictures of her, when I realized what that meant. I will never think of the song, "Sweet Caroline" the same... I'll never sing "Tarzan" or "Piece of Tin" without thinking of her and the joy she brought with her to camp. I'm so thankful for those conversations we had, but I wish I knew how little time we had. A few weeks ago, I emailed her and she said she was hanging in there... I thought it was better than it was...
Carrie is on the left... oh camp grannies.. I love you;)

Sweet Caroline, I hope you know how much you were loved here and I truly hope and pray that God took you up to heaven to rest.... you so deserved that rest after all you've been through, friend... I love you and camp will never be the same without you.

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