“You know, as we come to the end of this phase of our life, we find ourselves trying to remember the good times and trying to forget the bad times, and we find ourselves thinking about the future. We start to worry, thinking, ‘What am I gonna do? Where am I gonna be in ten years?’ But I say to you, ‘Hey, look at me!’ Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day… make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did.”
To say this post is painful for me is an incredible understatement. I lost a great friend, and the world lost a great person on March 27, 2015. It seems necessary to honor Jen in my blog because so many adventures during my study abroad, and back home in Minnesota involved her.
I first met Jen during Welcome Week freshman year. To be honest, she scared me. She scared me in a way that only the most extreme extroverts can scare a poor little introvert like me. She radiated energy and excitement. She talked a million miles a minute, and never seemed to slow down. One of my first memories of her is running into her on campus. She was wearing a sailor’s costume. It wasn’t Halloween and no one else was in costume, but she wore it confidently. To this day, I don’t remember why she was dressed like that, but it makes me smile.
Some of my favorite memories of her are from our time together in Spain. She was a great tour guide, and we had a blast with her.
On our first afternoon together in Madrid, we walked all over the city. The group was tired and thirsty, and really just wanted water. She took us to a restaurant that was way too fancy, and water was ridiculously expensive. She wasn’t fazed, and ordered a cocktail. We all crabbed and sipped on our 6 euro water.
Back home in the US, Jen and I spent time together through Women in Business. She was on the executive board for two years. This school year, she decided not to run, saying she thought she should “give me a chance.” I know she meant it in the most sincere, self sacrificing way that only Jen could. 🙂 Thankfully, I hugged her one last time the evening before she disappeared at our annual WIB gala.
I’ve unfortunately experienced losing a friend to suicide before, but the publicity and shock of the situation that made it seem like I was living in a Dateline episode, was so different. My understanding of depression has completely changed. In my heart I know she didn’t want to die. I believe her sickness took over and she was no longer in control of her own life. And that’s scary and sad in a whole different way.
I don’t want to dwell on her disappearance and death, but instead remember the good times and the person that she was.
The quote I chose for this post was shared at her celebration of life. I think it is so incredibly fitting. Jen, more than anyone else I know, lived a spectacular life. She did more in her life than most 90 year olds, and that gives me a little bit of peace. She had such an adventurous spirit. She went everywhere, did everything. She had friends all over the world. She set such an incredible example of how to live your life, however tragically short it may be.
I will always strive to live life a little more like Jen. I will say “hi” first. I will greet people with a hug. I will search for adventure even in the simplest places. I will volunteer. I will work hard. I will love my family and friends unconditionally. I will make my life spectacular.