Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Mar 05 2012

Seeing the beauty in the hard times.

I went to yoga today for the first time since Ioana died. I knew something would make me cry in the middle of class before I went. Oh well. It’s where I’m at.

The moment I started crying in yoga was the mention of a “shoebox of photographs with sepia-toned loving” in this Jack Johnson song, Better Together. It reminded me so much of the people who spoke about how you made Andrew a better person and how he opened up your life. I hope that he’ll grieve as hard for you as you would have for him and be left with some of the joy you gave him. The urge to run, to discover, to love, to learn. I don’t think that your going will take away everything you gave him. I hope he’ll find this eventually. The song spoke of love coming to someone in his dreams:

I believe in memories
They look so, so pretty when I sleep
Hey now, and when I wake up,
You look so pretty sleeping next to me
But there is not enough time,
And there is no, no song I could sing
And there is no combination of words I could say
But I will still tell you one thing
We’re better together.

I hope Andrew finds you in his dreams and has strength to smile again. I don’t know how that works-I’ve never lost a sibling spouse or parent. I don’t think I’d have been able to leave my bed yet if it had been my brother.

Ioana, I know that you left me with a very precious gift this week even as you took something very special from my life. My yoga teacher uses body poses to explain the contradictions of finding pain and joy in the same moment. As we hold a pose and our muscles burn and tire it is still possible to enjoy it and find peace and joy in the challenge. We are supposed to take the strength to find peace in yoga poses to our lives.

I can imagine finding peace and joy as my body burns. I didn’t know I’d be able to find any peace or love at the death of my friend.

I wouldn’t dare to describe my mood as happy as it wouldn’t be true. And every time I accept that she is actually gone I feel empty and achy. When I see her mom’s empty stare or I hold her crying sister, nothing in the world makes sense. But through all this pain there are still wonderful things. We seem to be at our best when life is a its worse.

I’ve seen how much families can love each other. I’ve seen grown men hold hands and hug and cry and take care of each other. I’ve made new friends who are bright and kind and enthusiastic about life. I’ve seen people forget past conflicts and forgive each other. I’ve seen an entire room full of people talk of nothing but love and adventures and dreams and friendship and inspiration. I’ve seen another 250 people listen for three hours even though many of them were standing in spike heels because we ran out of pews. Everyone is patient, helpful, kind. Everyone is dreaming about what they can accomplish. People are hiking, painting, writing, loving, cooking, eating and jumping into freezing pools with their closest friends in March at a celebration of your life after we buried you.

Ioana gave us so much when she was alive. She convinced many to run. To hike to the bottom of the grand canyon. To study. To play in cold water. To express love openly. To keep memories alive in photographs. To wake up early and see the sunrise on the walls of the canyon. She even convinced my shy boyfriend to dance at her wedding! Who could refuse such a bride?

With her death she gave me more than I could possibly imagine. I never would wish anyone’s passing so that we might appreciate our loved ones more, but since I have no control over her death I can only try to thank her for how it influenced me. Thank you Ioana, for how much I love my Andy, my friends and my family. For appreciating the feel of my body as I ride my bike in the sun. For realizing that most of everything that I’m ever annoyed about doesn’t really matter. For inspiring me to leave the computer and sit and talk to my loved ones. Thank you Ioana for gathering all of your loved ones together so I might get to know all of the wonderful people who came to celebrate your life. I wish I’d met them in a happier time.

Thank you for inspiring me to be less preoccupied with things I can’t control, less worried about my future and more willing to seek friendship and joy without shyness. I can’t accept that your life was meant to be short, vivid and wonderful because of the pain I’ve witnessed this week. Parents should never bury their children. I have to accept that we are meant to learn something from this tragic accident. Since you left me only with memories of your vivacious life, I suppose the best I can do is learn how to love harder and live more for you.

Thank you Ioana for all of the love you inspired this week-I don’t know how we’d get through all of this pain without it.

Love is the answer,
At least for most of the questions in my heart
Like why are we here? And where do we go?
And how come it’s so hard?

3 Responses

  1. Andrew Holycross

    Most eloquent Cammie. Did you know that she considered “Better Together” our song? She loved singing along to it and playing it in the car.

  2. You are an amazing writer. I feel right next to you when reading your words.

    Keep the words coming. It helps those of us that are reading from afar…

  3. Ms. Math

    I never knew Better Together was Andrew and Ioana’s song- the strange events of this week challenge what I thought I understood about life.

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