I want you all to meet Janelle Atkinson.
Isn’t she perfectly beautiful?
Now Janelle is dead.
Since I found out this morning I’ve had a dull, empty, shaky feeling take up camp in my stomach. In a way I am surprised at how upset I am. Janelle and I were friends, but we were not close friends. When I tell her close friends that I have no idea how they must be feeling, I mean it. Their experience must take my “dull, empty feeling” and multiply it a thousand times over until it is a void of deep pain.
Janelle was a woman. Even though she was near my age, she had a class to her. Her reserved nature meant her sly, witty sense of humor was not immediately apparent- you had to discover it- as you do with all the best people. She had two young boys, which gave her a maternal, graceful air. I can’t even think of what those boys are feeling.
This has driven something home. Interacting with death can and does help your life, but it does not harden you to actual death and grief. You can get rid of the daily anxiety and fear of death, but the grief of real, tangible human death will always be there. There is little you can do to stop it- and little you should do to stop it.
Janelle is gone. She is the memories of mortuary school, where she remains one of the few people I didn’t want to murder at least once in our time together. She is the author of a hilarious facebook comment written to me last week that I forgot to respond to. She is a woman who gave her life to death, and I wish I had known her better.