Will There Really Be a Morning?

There are moments you remember all your life…This is one of those moments. –Yentle

I can remember so distinctly that, all of us in blue velvet dresses with the rhinestones. Our feet crammed into character shoes and hair freshly curled. And as we wait (at LC I think) Wiehe came to tell us: there’s been an accident. A plane crash. Zach didn’t make it. I remember the shock, the confusion, and the silence that poured over us. But there was music to be sung, and what better way to honor him and begin to grieve then to make music and do our best at competition.

It was chance that we sang “Weep No More” that year. Maybe not, maybe it was fate. But emotion didn’t hit me until we got to that song. Looking straight ahead, not making eye contact with my peers, we all sang from the heart. And the tears rolled down my face. It’s hard to imagine your former student teacher and friend passing away unexpectedly. But there it was–he was gone.

I don’t remember what my drive home was like. I do remember bursting in the door, and crashing into my mom’s arms as I sobbed through explaining to her what I knew about what had happened. He was too young, there had to be a mistake, planes don’t crash anymore, do they? And there we sat together for a long while as she soothed my heart and dried my tears.

In class the day of our end of the year show Wiehe asked for a volunteer to give words about Zach. No one moved for a moment, and then a hand shot up milliseconds before mine. And even though I tried to show I really wanted to speak, the other girl was chosen. That sat heavy.

So, being me, I wrote out what I would have said. I took it home, let my mom read it, and she said, “you have to send this to Wiehe. This is beautiful and a wonderful tribute.” I knew the other girl didn’t know him very well and it didn’t seem right for her to give the honorarium–I was jealous, and pissed, and felt like she was being an opportunist . And so that night, Wiehe told me that we’d both be saying words. My words. We divvied up the sentences and read from the printout I had brought with me. My voice caught in my throat more than once that night. It seemed unreal that music he had arranged for us, that he had rehearsed with us, should be sung. But the music lives on.

I remember the visitation–traveling with one of my choir friends, driving the 45 minutes, staying just long enough to sign the book and take it in but not see the family. There were gobs of people. Even our choreographer was there. Leaving felt strange but I sent a card and explained a little about who I was.

I wrote several letters to his parents over the years–expressing what an effect Zach had on my life and my music education–what a pillar he was for my peers and me. They sent me his CD, I still have it. But time moves on and not all connections remain. After a couple years the letters ceased as other priorities took hold. But I think of them occasionally, especially as this date rolls around, and as it sometimes falls near Holy Week. I am thankful for what he taught me, for the joy and happiness he always exuded, for the Zach-isms that remain. For reminding me to live life to its fullest.

Will there really be a “Morning”? 
Is there such a thing as “Day”? 
Could I see it from the mountains 
If I were as tall as they? 

Has it feet like Water lilies? 
Has it feathers like a Bird? 
Is it brought from famous countries 
Of which I have never heard? 

Oh some Scholar! Oh some Sailor! 
Oh some Wise Men from the skies! 
Please to tell a little Pilgrim 
Where the place called “Morning” lies!

–Emily Dickinson

The Anticipation of the Thing

I’ve always known myself as anxious person. It manifests itself in different ways, and 98% of the time it’s something I manage well and those who don’t know me don’t pick up on it.

When I was little it would show up in my extra energy, needing to always be around people, and trouble falling asleep. Through adolescence my anxiety grew up a little. I wasn’t a rebellious kid or troublemaker, though I had my fair share of opportunities. But my anxiety caused me to overthink the consequences of getting caught and I simply chose not to participate. In college, my anxiety turned toward my future: will I find a job? Will I get married? Etc.

And now my anxiety comes, more often than not, in my relationships. I worry about how I affect others and the deeper meanings behind their actions and words. I often think myself into a tizzy making sure I haven’t upset someone or done something “weird”. I don’t talk about this side of me much, probably because anxiety comes with a huge stigma in our society. People think it has to be treated through medications only, that anxiety is a gateway to other things, or that anxiety only happens to the “other”. Those aren’t my truths.

I am a high functioning anxious person who handles it really well on my good days. But on my bad days I tend to think the worst: everyone hates me, I made them upset, I’m not living up to my own expectations, I’m left out of “fill in the blank”. It’s a part of me, I live with it and I grow through it, but it isn’t always easy. I’m learning to be more direct in sharing my feelings and insecurities, to ask for what I need (and accept the genuine answers whether “I can help” or “sorry, I’m busy”). And I’m identifying ways I can best work through anxious feelings to diffuse them as much as I can.

I’ve been faced a couple times recently with conversations that gave me insight to my life and my friendships, and I’ve found I probably should start journaling again–not the “dear diary” type. More prompt based, deeper learning related, and concentrated on my goals and growth, how I’m feeling and the causes and side affects. My brain needs this type of organization and these lists to help me move forward, to get past the multifaceted analysis that often consumes my thoughts.

So with journal and pen in hand, I look forward to setting some new habits and routines–a healthier, more confident, stronger me. So I’ll start that forward motion with this new mantra propelling me: