One of my most favoritest (I know that isn’t a word but bear with me here, I’m excited) authors came to Austin a few weeks ago and I attended her appearance at a local bookstore; she read a few chapters from her new book, took time for some Q&A and then signed books for HOURS like a boss.
Her name is Jenny Lawson and she just released her second book titled, “Furiously Happy.” She’s a popular blogger who has been fearlessly open in sharing her struggles with anxiety, depression, mental illness and self-harm. She’s pretty much my new hero.
I had known about her upcoming appearance for a few months and it was originally scheduled for a date when I wasn’t going to be able to attend. However, on the 23rd of September I happened to notice that the date had been moved up to that very evening and when I logged on to the bookstore’s website it said they would be taking online orders for copies of the book to be signed for only another 40 minutes. I was convinced it was a sign that I was supposed to go and quickly ordered a copy. I hoped to get there early and traffic was somehow delightfully forgiving and I arrived an hour early only to find myself circling the lot several times in search of somewhere to park. Just as I was about to give up and leave the lot to find a spot elsewhere, a car was leaving directly in front of the entrance and I again thought… this is meant to be! And when I got inside? No line to pick up the book… so within a minute of walking in I was headed to find a place to sit and I literally grabbed the very last available chair and anyone who came in after me was left to stand or sit on the floor. All signs seemed to point to me needing to be there to hear her speak. I guess I found all of that interestingly coincidental as I’ve been in the process of reading “The Celestine Prophecy” at the recommendation of a friend. Perhaps there’s something to all of that after all…?
Anyway… I had an hour to kill before she was scheduled to appear so I relaxed into my seat and cracked open her book and allowed it to take me on a lovely little journey as I became blissfully unaware of all the goings on in the room. I felt another moment of deep connection that I was exactly where I was supposed to be at that time when I turned to a page in the introduction to see “October 2010” jump out at me from the middle of a page. My heart stopped and I lost my breath for a moment… October 2010 was the worst month of my life. You were only alive for a few days that month and my life hasn’t been the same since. Turns out that during that same time, the author of this book, Jenny, had been experiencing a particularly desperate bout of her depression and anxiety coupled with a number of deaths of good friends contributing to her sadness; it was out of that deep despair that her newest book came to be. Her theory was that maybe those of us who experience such intense pain and agony (the lowest of the lows) might also possibly be capable of experiencing an intense happiness not easily understood by “normal people” (the highest of the highs.) So was born the “furiously happy” movement. To take those moments when thing are fine and make them amazing and maybe teach ourselves, after some time, how to take those moments of joy we find in our everyday lives from time to time and save them for when we need them most in the middle of the next depressive episode… and to go from just “surviving life” to “living life.” It’s worth a shot, I suppose.
It may sound silly but as Jenny stood up front and read aloud two chapters of her book and spoke so intimately about her lifelong struggle with anxiety, depression and self-harm in a deliriously funny way, I found myself voraciously fighting back tears. It’s hard to describe, really… but I think at the heart of it I was just feeling really lucky to be in a room surrounded by other people who understand that struggle and I couldn’t stop thinking about you and how much I was dreading the month of October… a time of year I used to love so much. A week from today will be five years since you took your life. Honestly, I just can’t believe it has been that long. And yet, after 5 years I still have moments (like I did just last night) where I look at your picture and think to myself that I should give you a call; after all this time there is still a part of me that continues to struggle to believe it is real. Having been denied the opportunity to see your body for myself has allowed for that tiny piece of my heart to go on hoping in the absence of physical proof of your death.
I got another tattoo last week and again had some of your ashes put in it. It’s a branch of Japanese Cherry Blossoms. I’ve always been drawn to them but after researching the meaning and symbolism of them I knew that’s what I wanted; they are a symbolic flower of the spring, a time of renewal, and the fleeting nature of life. Their life is very, very short. You were beautiful to me and you, like the cherry blossoms, weren’t here nearly long enough. I like how the branches and blossoms don’t fully cover the scars on that arm but do sort of engulf them; I didn’t want to completely cover them. They are still part of my story, even if it wasn’t one of the best chapters.
Missing you so much these days, dude.