Have any of you ever read any of the words on a Chipotle carry out bag? I never did until today. I took a quick break here at Reston Town Center, where I work my Big Girl Job, and ran over to Chipotle to get some carry out to bring back to my desk. I usually shovel food into my mouth mindlessly as I'm responding to emails and fielding questions from my staff and coworkers. But today it's unusually quiet around here and I noticed the brown paper bag my lunch came in.
Actually what I noticed was the author of the short writeup listed at the top. Amy Tan.
I love Amy Tan. She is an amazing writer and I've read everything she has ever published. Multiple times. I relate very much to being held hostage in a traditional Chinese mentality, being judged unfairly for my personal choices, and just generally never being good enough. Her books make me feel like it's ok to just be me. I am a decendent of this mentality but someone who doesn't have to adopt it.
She wrote a very short blurb about ghosts which I found intriguing. I think we all, whether we believe in ghosts or not, find the topic intriguing because it is dramatized as the ultimate scary thing. I personally am more afraid of the living crazy people rather than dead ones.
I wanted to take a moment to share my "ghost" story with you. And I'll start by saying that I don't traditionally believe in ghosts or afterlife or heaven or hell or anything like that. My belief is that when you're gone you're just gone. But there is a sense of energy about things here in the Universe. Conjured by our subconscious or real, there always seems to be something present that isn't necessarily alive. And so, I am willing to accept that what we see is not necessarily everything that there is.
The biggest tragedy of my life happened when I was 20. My best friend from age 6 months who lived across the street from me on Heritage Circle, Amanda, died from a brain tumor in emergency surgery at UVa hospital. I was devistated. I am still devistated.
She was the closest thing to a sister to me. She taught me what unconditional love means. I can't credit my parents for that, and thank goodness I didn't rely on them for that life lesson. Up until that moment she died, I didn't have a single memory in my life that didn't include her. Even when we were apart in college, every thing that I did I told her about, and my memories are of our discussions and her insights.
Anyways, a few years after her passing, I had a very vivid dream about an entire day that we spent together. It was a totally normal day, nothing extraordinary. We met up for lunch and went shopping and got some cute matching shoes, had frozen yogurt at the mall. Twice. That totally would have happened in real life. Had a good cry about some boyfriend drama she was having.
When I woke up, I had no concept of reality. The dream was so real, I couldn't snap out of it for a few minutes and sat there in bed, realizing desperately that she was not alive. I coudn't call her to see if she felt better this morning after our talk the night before. And I felt so betrayed by my mind in its self indulgence. I spent the day suffering the loss of her all over again.
But when I came out of my grief again, a few days later, and realized that unlike other dreams, where you remember details the moment you wake up and they dissipate shortly thereafter, I could remember my dream like it was a real memory. From a real day. I still remember it, and I now think of it has a real day. And because I got to spend that day with Amanda, it was one of the greatest gifts I've ever been given. That year, which was a leap year, I lived 367 days.
In Amy Tan's blurb on the back of my Chipotle bag, it says "There are things you feel because they are true. Like love, like loss, like ghosts."
I have since had one other day like this with Amanda, about 4 years ago. I feel so grateful to have these experiences because they are true, like my love for her, my loss of her, and how she presents herself to me when I least expect it. I can't wait to see my dear friend again.