Grief is seeing only what has been taken away from you. The celebration of life is recognizing all that we were blessed with, and feeling so very grateful
Who Ordered this Truckload of Dung? Ajahn Bram
If you’ve had a chance to get to know me, you’d know that I’ve had a long history battling an eating disorder. If you know me even better, you’d know that this issue is still something that haunts me. While the darkest days seem furthest behind, the memory still runs deep. Breaking down toxic thoughts are not easy, especially when you’ve allowed them to dictate who you are for years.
Nearly 9 years ago, I had gone through an outpatient treatment therapy for my eating disorder. I was in a group with other girls with anorexia/bulimia and it was intended to get us on a healthy path. Of course, none of us wanted to be there obviously. None of us felt ready to stop or thought that we had a problem. Naturally, I became friends with many of them. Our therapist was weary of us spending time together outside of the group because since it was unmonitored, it could be a trigger for a relapse. We did meet though, here and there. Yet, as time passed, we went our separate ways.
About 2 years after our treatment group, I happened to meet up with one of the girls. We were both still struggling with our eating issues, but mine happened to be a bit more under the radar. I didn’t look underweight, in fact, I was a little overweight. Perhaps my parents knew something wasn’t okay, but after my rebellious teen years and the tumultuous times at the onset of my eating disorder and drug usage, I think they’d forgotten what I was like without it all.
In fact, I had forgotten what I was like without it all.
Seeing my friend again was hard and I realized that I couldn’t connect with her much until she’d healed or until I was solid enough. It was a trigger for me at that time and while I don’t blame her in the least, I wish I could’ve been a better friend. Eventually though, more time and distance continued separated us. Thanks to Facebook, we connected here and there. I also started practicing ashtanga around that time. There was a large part of me that had grown tired of it all and was seeking a journey of healing; healing that would take me nearly a decade, which seems to be a process that’s never-ending.
Venturing to Korea was not easy and my mental/emotional state was turbulent. Adjusting to a new culture, job, lifestyle, dealing with the isolation that comes from my yoga practice, and not speaking the same language prompted a major relapse. I was ashamed and embarrassed by it all because I thought I had conquered it through yoga.
About 1 1/2 years into my time in Korea, I heard from my old friend. She contacted me about teaching English. I could see from her pictures that she was still battling her ED (we name it). At that point, I was working towards healing myself, so I felt it best that I not engage too much with her. I’d follow her on Facebook, but avoided connecting much for fear that in my fragile state, we’d trigger each other more.
She spent the last year teaching English in Spain and the last few months traveling around Europe. I had connected with her at the end of March and she’d apparently had spent some time in the hospital with an ulcer or infection of some sort. I found out yesterday that she passed away suddenly on April 9th from a heart condition. I’m saddened that she never overcame her battle with ED.
I read a story today about grief and loss. In his book, Who Ordered this Truckload of Dung, Ajahn Bram talks about how at the end of good concerts people always want more. We applause loudly, scream, holler, and stand up because we don’t want it to end. Eventually though, after extra songs are played or sung, or the audience quiets down, the band/orchestra and all the people will pack up and go home. There’s always a buzz after and though the music or performance stops, the energy doesn’t fade. We remember those hallmark performances or moments for many years after.
Bram shared how the end of concerts was how he felt about his father’s death. It was like a great concert performance had ended and it was his father’s time to go home. Bram didn’t feel sad, instead he was filled with inspiration and gratitude.
At this time, I can find solace when thinking of Jessica and her life this way. No doubt she struggled to continue with her encore probably the past few years, but what a wonderful life she’s had. How lucky I was to have known her.
Your spirit lives on Jessica. Despite the darkness we shared, I remember laughing with you and how lighthearted you were. Wherever you are now is a special place. I know you touched many lives as I can see it from all the love that’s being shared on your Facebook wall. I’m sorry I never saw you again in this life, but I pray our paths will meet again. I’m grateful to have met you. May you find peace and calmer shores at your next destination.
Farewell for now.