Carly has just left us…I think I’m still waiting for it to not be real, for life to go back to the part where I could still think of her as someone I was excited to see again at our reunion coming up, as someone living in the woods and doing good things for good people. Someone I could still think of as having a totally contagious laugh and positive spirit, and a straight up zest for life. But she’s gone. One of the truly good ones. Gone. Just 26 years old, with so many awesome things to do, so many people to meet, adventures to take, cookies to bake, jokes to laugh at ahead of her. It seems so needless and wrong for a life so full of joy and impact to be over.

One of the most unfortunate side effects of growing up has been losing people I love to the craziness of death. I have experienced more death in the last two years of my life than in the previous twenty-four. Some were older people whose minds had been absent from us for many years; some babies who never saw the insides of their rooms at homes, living their short lives in the hospital; some young men fighting for an America they love; fathers, mothers, of children who still so so so need their parents.

How do we handle this? How do we make sense of it all?

I don’t think we can reason it out. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason, we just have to know that we can’t understand it. That might sound crazy, but I take comfort in knowing there is something bigger than me who has it all figured out.

When I think about Carly dying….honestly I think logistically about what might have happened. I hope she wasn’t in pain. I hope she didn’t have a chance to worry. I hope she never saw it coming. I hope we are all more careful because of it.

I know she is dancing and laughing and smiling somewhere. I hope she feels all our love.

When I think about what we will do now, with this loss and others we’ve faced recently, and will face still more in our future…what do we say? How do we prepare?

Maybe we shouldn’t say anything, but just feel love for each other. Hug everyone just a second longer. Or maybe we should say everything we feel. Maybe we don’t prepare for the eventuality like it could happen at any second, but instead we really think about the seconds and minutes we are in right now, the people we are with right now. So often, I feel myself planning for tomorrow, or a future day, or a future year. Carly enjoyed every moment fully that she was experiencing right then. We can carry a piece of her always if we do the same.

I’ve gotten emails and messages and texts from people I haven’t heard from in years…even from friends that I haven’t been on great terms with since high school. I think we’re all we’re all shocked and devastated at Carly’s passing, and feeling called to reach out and say hey guess what? Nothing matters except that I miss you and I love you. Lets catch up. Its kinda beautiful. Its really beautiful.

Its beautiful to see the outpouring of love on her facebook page, of memories, pictures we’re digging up out of storage. It in no way makes any part of Carly’s passing okay with me. But it is a small comfort to know that once someone is a part of your life, they are always a part of it. I’m so thankful that technology is making it a little easier for us all to reconnect and kind of hold hands as we deal with the loss.

Everyone who ever spent a few minutes with Carly will now have a Carly-shaped hole in their heart, until we meet again. And until then…I really want to love people more truly, and tell them more often. To be there when needed. To enjoy all my moments within all my days, no matter the circumstance. In feeling that joy, in smiling just like Carly always used to, we can keep her with us on this side of heaven. Until we meet again. I can’t wait until we meet again.