"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


there's a song that will linger

A few weeks ago, I was searching through a box labelled "dissertation," looking for an article on the Congo I read a couple of years ago. I have a filing system for these things, but having had to pack up everything I own and put it into storage twice in fifteen months means that a lot of articles, books, and other papers are in odd places.

I found the article at about the same time as I saw an old, graded, never-picked-up paper from a class I TA-ed for two years ago. African politics was the subject, and the unclaimed paper was Allie's. She had a rough year, and I think I graded her paper after the others, which is why she never got it back.

Today makes a year since Allie died. In some ways, it feels like a long time ago. In others, it feels like yesterday.

The day she died was awful. I was in the Congo, and a year ago yesterday, the week of Easter, I had seen the worst thing I've ever seen. Mr. Florida and I were both sick at the site of those sick, starving children, and shell-shocked parents who were unable to protect their children from an ugly, messy world.

One year ago today, I was still thinking about it, still having trouble eating, still mourning the fact that I have so much while others have so little, wondering why we make excuses for our conspicuous consumption when children created in God's image are starving to death. I don't imagine I'll ever forget that day, because after trying to process all that, my sister sent a text message telling me that she was sorry, that Allie was gone.

Tears. A very long-distance call to the CPP, who, instead of choosing a bridesmaid's dress for her future sister-in-law to wear at her wedding, was trying to figure out how you choose an outfit for your 23-year-old friend to be buried in. I had no answer. The weekend was a blur of more tears, and feelings of sadness and hopelessness at not being able to be there for my friends.

A year has passed and I am still not okay with what happened. I'm not okay with the fact that a beautiful, vibrant young woman was cursed with a disease that was part of her genetic makeup. It wasn't just or fair or right that this person full of life and ideas and who cared so much for her family and friends only got 23 years to make a difference. And she did make a difference, but that doesn't make it okay. The day she died, one year ago today, was, as Amy put it, gray.

A year has passed, and the sky is gray. My friend Wes's mother passed away this week. She was in a horrible car accident just after Christmas. She survived, but she was in a coma from which she never woke up. Tomorrow is the funeral, and the world for Wes and his family is gray.

It's been a year, and Allie is still gone, and I am not okay with this, and Wes's mom is dead, and the sky is gray, but I don't think Allie would want us to remember her by thinking about a dull, gray sky. Allie was not gray, she was not boring, she was not mournful, even as sickness started to claim her life. Allie was blue Texas skies and bright April tulips and smiles for everyone she met and a passion to help others and a life that was anything but gray.

And so, one year later, I will find ways to remember Allie and the color that she brought into our lives. I will remember Allie by thinking about an intelligent young woman who worked hard in her African politics class. I will remember Allie by going to Waco to have lunch with a dear friend. I will remember Allie by driving through fields of bluebonnets in the last days of their spectacular springtime beauty. I will remember Allie by going dancing in the Hill Country tonight, enjoying the company of friends and good music under the great starry dome of the Texas sky. It's been a year, and I think that's what she would want.


Blogger Angela said...

A sigh is wafted across the silent wave.... hard times come again no more.

Sunday, April 22, 2007 1:10:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Thanks for noticing that. Your friendship means more to me than you will know.

Sunday, April 22, 2007 3:22:00 PM


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