Monday, March 26, 2012

For Sarah Tipps

Today might not mean much to some people, but to me and many others, today is Sarah Tipps' birthday.

I met Sarah in the Muse Machine production of Thoroughly Modern Millie in 2006. She was soft spoken and quiet, but such a sweetheart. Even if you didn't know her too well, you still loved her. She was always such a kind person to everyone.

On March 23, 2009, Sarah passed away.

I remember every detail of the night that I found out. It was March 24th. I was in Nancy Lemmon's room, working on a paper for LIB 120 on her computer because mine was broken. I was wearing SVU sweats and a red sweater. I sat at the desk while Nancy sat on her bed doing homework. I took a break and got on Facebook (like most students do), and saw a heartfelt post by Trevor Coran (a fellow Musie) about Sarah. I started to get nervous--something was definitely up. I searched Facebook and googled Sarah's name along with Dayton Daily News, my hometown's newspaper. The first result was her obituary. I burst into tears, shaken by what I found. I couldn't comprehend what had happened. If I think about it too hard, I still can't. I was a wreck after that for quite a while. I had a difficult time focusing on school work, and my panic disorder (something I struggled with at the time) was sent into overdrive.

I realized in the months after her passing that I didn't (and still don't) handle death well. A couple of my great grandparents and both of my dad's parents have passed away, but I hardly knew them, so I didn't really feel much when it happened. Maybe that's why Sarah's death affected me so deeply--because I actually knew her and had a relationship with her. Even now, I'm still so concerned about my friends and family and their safety. One of the things I even struggled with in a long courtship with Joey was the fear that something would happen to one of us before we could be sealed in the temple and then we wouldn't get to be together forever. Its taken me a lot of work and faith to not be afraid of that anymore.

Though those things have come back to my mind tonight, the one thing I'm thinking about most right now is the fact that I didn't remember until today. I didn't remember the anniversary of her death until I realized it was her birthday. That makes me feel horribly guilty. It makes me feel like I forgot her, or care less about her and her family that still has to live without her. I know people say that when something like this happens, you have to pick up the pieces and keep living, but I still feel bad that I forgot. How do you not forget, but keep living without existing in sadness?

I'm grateful though, that once I began to think of Sarah, my heart was filled with peace and comfort, and I know it comes from a knowledge of the gospel, the plan of salvation, and a loving Heavenly Father. I'm so thankful to be a member of a church that believes in eternal relationships and life after death. I can't imagine how happy Sarah's parents will be when they get to be with their sweet daughter again. I'm grateful for being taught these things so that they can help me in times of sorrow or struggle, when my mortal mind can't fully understand why things happen or how they will be made better. I'm grateful for the relationship I did get to have with Sarah, however short it may have been. What a wonderful person she was.

Dear friends, I wrote all of this not to make anyone uncomfortable by the personal content. I know I needed to write it out and give physical form to my thoughts, but I think I also needed a reminder of how precious my friends and family are, my faith is, and my own life is -- not just my sheer existence as a human being, but my ability to enjoy and experience so many things.

Life is incredible.

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