How I’m doing…

July 21, 2009 22:56 – 22:56

When I was in graduate school, my first job was in the sociology department’s graduate library. It was a moderately large space on the 4th or 5th floor—and I don’t believe anyone ever came into it when I was working there. It was a very lonely and depressing place—so far from the hustle and bustle of learning. It was like a graveyard for ideas. And, it gets worse.

A graduate student had recently committed suicide, and his parents donated all of his books and papers to the graduate library—dozens of boxes. The task that kept me busy for that entire quarter was organizing, sorting, and cataloging all of what had been his. The really gripping part was that about 90% of his collection were books and articles about suicide. There’s really nothing spookier than poking through the life work of someone who recently died, and his life work was focused on his cause of death.

Each day, some dreadful chore that we need to do makes it necessary that Karen or I comb through some of Katie’s things. I feel like I’m violating her privacy. She’s gone. But, she’s not completely gone—and probably never will be. And, she was killed. She did not take her own life. But, combing through the remnants of her life gives me an eerie sense of déjà vu that takes me back to that dusty, lonely, and poorly-lit graduate school library.

There’s so much in Katie’s stuff that represents plans for the future—not a hint that it was all about to end. Things she was going to do. Things she needed to remember to do. People she needed to talk to. People she was planning to get to know. Cards from people she’d met at General Assembly. People she had told she would help with one thing or another. So much life still to be lived.

What Katie left behind speaks powerfully of where she was planning to take herself—and the rest of us. She had a map to the future, and she had every intention of following that map, and following her heart, making loving detours along the way.

This is in sharp contrast to what the graduate student left behind. He had lived his life, and had settled his affairs. He was done.

But, Katie isn’t done. There are things she still needs to do—people who still need hugs. People who need to know that they’re loved. Wrongs that need to be righted. Evil that needs to be overshadowed by good. Broken lives that need to be mended. Bio-data that needs to be analyzed. A ministry that needs to be continued. Dreams that need to be fulfilled. Damn it!

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