A Letter Among Friends: In Missing Jodi Tilton These Past Two Years

A Letter Among Friends:

Yesterday and five days before that. Yesterday marked two years since Jodi’s death. Five long days before that, the 21st of July, was two years since she passed into the unknown, leaving this world we all inhabit. I write this to you in missing Jodi Tilton since these past two years have become endless and immeasurable, as suffering this loss is “one very long moment”.

I know you all miss her as well and in your own and important ways, as Jodi brought out something different in each of us. And I want to recognize how we have all suffered in our own and important ways in and around this immeasurable loss, and in our own lives.

Oscar Wilde, in his prison letter De Profundis, writes on the nature of suffering as he sat in Reading Goal and I find the words hauntingly similar to grief and mourning and in missing Jodi Tilton. I thought I would share those words with you all.

“Suffering is one very long moment. We cannot divide it by seasons. We can only record its moods, and chronicle their return. With us time itself does not progress. It revolves. It seems to circle round one centre of pain. The paralyzing immobility of a life every circumstance of which is regulated after an unchangeable pattern, so that we eat and drink and lie down and pray, or kneel at least for prayer, according to the inflexible laws of an iron formula: this immobile quality, that makes each dreadful day in the very minutest detail like its brother, seems to communicate itself to those external forces the very essence of whose existence is ceaseless change. Of seed-time or harvest, of the reapers bending over the corn, or the grape gatherers threading through the vines, of the grass in the orchard made white with broken blossoms or strewn with fallen fruit: of these we know nothing and can know nothing. (…) For us there is only one season, the season of sorrow.”

I often question myself in this “season of sorrow” how or why I have continued in this life, as I feel that I have lost myself as well; maybe it too passed into the unknown on 21 July 2007. And the answer can be found in those moments and flows between all of us and with those memories of her we have collected together.

But I can not help but remark on the irony of this “season of sorrow”, as she would have been immensely frustrated with all of this, and all of us. As her ability to forgive, to live her life, to create and produce, and to show affections and build relationships – her life, “a life” – is something that we carry within ourselves. Their have been too many terrible lines in notebooks, too many tears and nightmares, too much “suffering” these past two years.

If I cannot hold her in my arms, or hear her bellowing voice, or share a meal with her, or “meet clandestinely on the hill behind the ball fields in Prospect Park” – then the only way to have Jodi become part of our “forever”, to carry her into this world and the new one we are creating, is to create “a life”, a new life. Simply, very simply: I’m going to try, and I hope you will join me and try in your own and important ways.

In missing Jodi Tilton these past two years, and missing you all as well,

Kevin Van Meter

27 July 2009