Photo-A-Day for May: Reflections
I started my photo-a-day for May yesterday. Reflections. Unfortunately I lost a friend on Sunday to liver failure due to alcoholism. In honor of him, I will post my first 2 photos in reflection of our time as roommates with another friend Seth.
A good friend of mine dated Tommy for a long time. It was a tumultuous relationship but I know she loved him deeply. Tommy had a good heart but a head full of demons.
I have chosen my first two numbers from the jar.
Day 1: #17
An oven thermometer! I do a lot of baking and I often have to guesstimate the times for baking so it will be nice to know what the oven is ACTUALLY heating at.
Day 2: #24
A gift certificate for the last Pannekoeken in MN. They have the BEST apple pannekoekens.
As I’ve mentioned, I am turning 29 at the end of May. My amazing Mom has given me a jar filled with folded pieces of colored paper with lid labeled “Count Down to 29.” Beginning tomorrow, I get to choose one piece of paper each day and get a small gift for every day until I turn 29. I got so lucky having her as my mother.
A friend of mine, Asha Marie, has been posting monthly photo series on Facebook. She chooses one theme every month and takes one photo per day for the month that she believes represents that theme. I asked her if I could “steal” this idea and she gave me the green light. I have been ruminating on which theme I wanted to use for my first month, May. May is rife with feelings and events for me. Loren’s anniversary of the car accident and her death are on May 1 and 2nd, my boyfriend Vanella’s birthday is on May 3rd, then comes Cinco de Mayo (which as a Mexican I don’t find to be all that important but nonetheless fun to celebrate), my mother and family and I are doing a breast cancer walk on Mother’s Day, then my birthday is on May 28th, and I suppose you can throw Memorial Day in there too. This May I will be entering the last year of my 20’s. Turning 29 does not scare me even though the thought of turning 30 next year feels odd. I do not by any means feel old, but I do feel as though… “am I really only 29 and am I already turning 29?” at the same time. I think back on my life so far and see that I have already had so many experiences and I look forward to, hopefully, many more.
So, I have decided to make my theme for May: Reflections. I will also be posting these to my Tumblr feed. http://jesscvt.tumblr.com/. I hope they are enjoyable and inspiring. Especially since it seems this winter here in MN will never end. Space-time continuum rift?
“Did that really happen?” It’s a question every memoirist and personal essayist faces. Ideally the writer will answer “Yes.” It gets awkward when you have to say, “Yes, but…”
In the October 2005 debut episode of his influential TV show, Stephen Colbert gave the world the word truthiness. He said truthiness is when you’re talking about something that seems like the truth that you want to be the truth. That sounds a lot like the way memory works. I know a little bit about that as a journalist, piecing together different participants’ own truthiness of an event in an attempt to find the real truth.
I am now in my third year of learning to put the “I” on the page after years as a fact-obsessed journalist. I have learned a lot and am still learning, but my touchstone philosophy on writing about my life comes from Tobias Wolff’s…
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3 years ago on May 1, my cousin’s girlfriend Loren was in a car accident. They had 2 small boys. She was such a great mother, it just came so naturally to her. She loved the color green, gardening and flowers (tulips were her favorite), and being around her family and friends. Loren and my cousin had their first son at a very young age and the second one followed not long after. She put her dreams on hold to be a stay-at-home Mom. Not long before the accident she had finally just started back up with college courses. Loren was on her way to school the day of the accident. It was a Friday, mid-morning, and she was on a highway that had construction being done. The road had a lot of gravel and had a few curves. We’re not quite sure what happened, but there is a possibility she may have been texting while taking one of the curves. Her tires skid on the gravel and her car slid under a construction vehicle parked on the side of the road. She was wearing her seat belt but the top of her car was crushed as it went under the truck and she sustained severe head trauma.
My Mom called me around 11 am. We were supposed to be meeting up that day for coffee and to spend some time together. She told me that Loren had been in a car accident, but we didn’t know any more. 30 minutes later she called again and said that she was at Regions Hospital (in Saint Paul, MN) and that her condition was serious, I believe her exact words were “it’s not good.” We were asked to watch their kids while my cousins, aunts and uncles went to the hospital.
I could tell the children knew something was off, but of course no one had told them anything yet. A few hours went by, it seemed like days, before were called and informed that Loren was not going to make it and that my other cousin’s husband was on his way back to pick the kids up and bring them to the hospital to say goodbye.
As we were en route to the hospital it seemed surreal. I don’t think I started crying until I saw my cousin. I broke down when we hugged and I don’t think I stopped crying for hours. My cousin told me that the head trauma she sustained was so severe that she was essentially “brain-dead.” The doctors said that there was so much uncontrollable swelling that she would not be able to come back from the damage it had done to her brain. Apparently she had been dead on the scene of the accident and had to be revived several times. The car was so crushed that it took a while to get her out.
He and her family decided they were going to take her off life support.
I was allowed to see her before we left. It was odd because her head was so swollen that she was unrecognizable, but the rest of her body was perfect. I remember looking at the smooth skin of her flat belly that was sticking out from her hospital gown and seeing a little mole on this spotless surface. I thought of how beautiful she was even now. She was lovely not only on the outside, but she was also such a gorgeous person on the inside. I looked at her parents and siblings standing around her. I watched the 2 boys, so young and confused and scared.
The next day was a Saturday. It was the day I was supposed to be celebrating Vanella’s birthday at his mother’s house. We were having a big barbecue and playing yard games. In the morning I went to brunch with some girlfriends, but I could not eat much. My cousin called and said they were taking her off life support that day. I don’t remember much of the day or night except embarrassing bursts of uncontrollable crying.
My point in telling this story is that April is “Distracted Driving Awareness Month.” I don’t know that Loren’s accident was caused by texting or using her phone in any way. But I know there is a chance it was, and I do know that many other teens and adults have died because of this too. Is what you have to say really that important to risk your life for? Or can it wait until you can pull over or stop somewhere? I know that I am still guilty of doing this and even though I have gotten better in the last 3 years, I know I need to stop completely. I don’t want my life, or any one else’s, to end with “lol” or “where should I meet you?” It’s just not worth it. Please make an effort to stop using your phone while driving. I think this is a lesson, or part of it, that Loren would want to have left behind.
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