Rest in Peace Shelley Ann Lisbona 2/23/2010
My heart feels like it is bleeding right now, and I don’t really have any words. The pictures below are from the summer of 2006 when we went to Massachusetts together. I was one of the leaders on the team, and Shelley was one of my kids (but don’t forget, I was kind of a kid too). Shelley challenged me as a leader and really helped me grow. Death in this age of social media and networking is interesting (that’s definitely not the right word here). On Shelley’s page, people are writing letters to her. Part of me wants to write too as a way to make some sort of connection to her and to continue our relationship, but I feel too weird about it. However, I am reading what everyone else posts. What happens to your facebook page after you die? Will Shelley’s facebook page forever say, “i’m shelley. i fence. i sing. i spin flags. i love it all. and without my friends i would probably die.”
I love it all, I love it all, I love it all. I love it all too, Shelley. Except this. I don’t love this. This is scary. But not because of death. I truly believe you are in an amazing place that I cannot even imagine. You are in the arms of a loving God, and my soul smiles and longs to be with you there too. But this is scary. Last year you seemed completely fine, and when we were in Massachusetts, the fact that we wouldn’t have you into old age never crossed my mind. If it had, what would I have done differently? Would I have been more loving? More patient? More kind? More dedicated to appreciating every minute with you? I think so. I hope so. But I didn’t know, and that scares me. Who else doesn’t have a lot of time? Ah. Here I go, talking to you through my computer. Well, if you can hear me, know that I miss you, and I love you, and I’m praying for your family, and, and, and, I won’t forget you, ever.
Finding solace in nature
After finding out about her death, I went right to campus (I knew it wouldn’t be a good idea to be alone) to find my best friend Sarah. I walked in the front door, hair dripping wet, clothes a mess, with a huge bath towel in my hand to cry into, and found her working at admissions. I do love COA and all of the mother figures on campus. Whether it’s Cherie behind the front desk or Amy in the kitchen or Donna or Sarah in admissions or Heather or Bonnie or Karen— they are all amazing. Heather told us about a secret beach and drew us a map, and Sarah and I decided to go for a walk to the other side of the island to find it. The weather wasn’t nice, but it was perfect.
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
(On Death – Kahlil Gibran)1