In Math, there are things called imaginary numbers. Numbers that don’t exist? Something in Math that isn’t concrete? How could that be? Math is the most tangible subject we study. Everything can be proven. Everything has an answer. But perhaps, even in the most solid of studies there are things that are unanswerable. Maybe there are things that just have no explanation. That was what Ricky Blanco was trying to understand in a chapter of his book, The Prince of Cocuyito and what I’m trying, myself, to understand now after this weekend.
On Saturday, I noticed an update by an old high school friend about another high school acquaintance. The words were confusing: many great memories… will never forget you… rest in peace. Jen passed away. How could that be? She was my age? The news sucker-punched me. I read through the comments trying to understand the reality, trying to find out what happened, not wanting to stick my nose in and ask how she had died but also wanting to know the reason for the tragedy. I found no answer, many condolences but no explanation and then I realized that not knowing the cause wasn’t what was troubling me, it was the fact that this girl who sat next to me in class, who was young and vibrant and full of life, who was my age was just gone. I couldn’t understand and truthfully, I didn’t want to understand.
On Sunday, after seeing image upon image of the destruction the earthquake in Nepal caused, I read another status posted by another friend with the same bubble of words. I will miss you… your beautiful spirit… RIP. Another graduate from our high school, Eve had been on Mt. Everest when the avalanche caused by the shake took her life. I clicked to Eve’s Facebook page. It seems she had just joined Madison Mountaineering, a mountain guide service that provides education and training for climbers. Her posts were excited, funny, full of joy… and recent:
(April 25) Day 28 on this arduous journey , snow is falling & my food cravings are at an all time high…Is a crunchy spicy tuna roll with eel sauce too much to ask for?
(April 18) Training day! So much fun getting on the glacier for rappelling, ladder traversing, and ice climbing #madisonmountaineering
How could that be it? How could it just end? How could their lives have changed so instantly? So without warning? One day here, the next… it left me hopeless. Defeated. The thought of how quickly life can change and how very quickly it can be taken left me terrified and very aware of my own mortality, how easily it could be me. With every update I read, my heavy heart became heavier, weighed down with more and more questions I knew couldn’t be answered.
I woke up today no more clear on these answers than yesterday and no more clear than I’ll be tomorrow. Some answers, like imaginary numbers, don’t exist. I only know that today I will appreciate more the blessings that I have been given today. Not the ones that will come tomorrow or someday. The ones in my grace today.
To Jen and Eve, two lives taken too soon.
Update: Since writing this, I’ve learned of a donation fund set up in Eve’s name. Please consider making any donation through “International Medical Corps who deploys mobile medical units to provide emergency care and vital relief supplies including medicine, hygiene kits, shelter materials, blankets and water purification supplies. Help survivors get the lifesaving care they need, and help Nepal rebuild.”