To you, Amanda. For the soulful presence you always shared so very well.
To the goats, who are pleading mercy to the frozen grass you warmed with your whispering trudge. And to the amazing old lady you would have made. And to the stories you should be telling from the right here of the now. And to your smile. The one that held, and mustered and moved a day into being.
The angels, how they profit from such a loss as we have come to know.
You give those stars all hell, sister.
When you met Amanda Blakney, you came away the better for it. She didn’t just come to the Grace House, she rocked it off its feet. In her time there, she was a strong presence and support to others. When she moved on, her love remained. She always left you wanting more, but that was okay, because she was always there to provide it.
Amanda left this life without our permission. We can no longer give her hugs, share selfies, laugh together. We can no longer be captured by that amazing smile. The world is a whole lot colder as we face the reality of her passing. Her loss is a theft of times and places that will never be experienced, of stories that will never be told. We’re left to remember her smile, and to wrap our arms around the love she never stopped giving us.
Dear Miss Amanda Blakney, I hope you can check your FB page from wherever you are. You have new posts . . .
“Amanda I don’t think you’re beautiful, I think you’re beyond that.”
“Rest high babydoll.”
“Those who love you must face being without you.”
“Bbygrl. Waddup doe? You deserve peace and happiness, and finally you aren’t suffering from this terrible disease anymore. I’m glad you’re reunited with your mom, too, finally.”
“The long hard road is over but your heart and your caring soul will never be forgotten.”
“I know what you longed for
To hold your mom once more
I understand Your reasons
But your timing has me grieving (Mick Kandi Royer).”
“I wish you could read just one of these comments and know what youmeant to people.”
October 29, 1993- February 12, 2015
Miss Amanda, you really did rock our world. You will always be my little hippie girl . . . I love you more.
It started with a hug.
After completing an interview for residency at the Grace House, Alice asked me for a hug. She didn’t ask if she was accepted. She just wanted a hug. I have always been a bit awkward doling out hugs. To me. . . I have to know you. I have to like you. You have to earn my hug. I stood for a frozen moment, after which I leaned in and provided a stiff, uncomfortable hug. Well, at least I thought so. Apparently Alice did not. Think so. She thanked me for the interview. She thanked me for listening. She thanked me for acceptance into the Grace House.
I’ve come to realize that many, if not most people in recovery freely give out hugs and “I love you’s”. At meetings there are hugs and loves flying all over the place. I am not a real active participant in this hug fest. Although, I am getting better. I have come to realize that sometimes all someone needs is a hug and maybe I’m the person to give it.
Alice needed more than a hug when she came to the Grace House. In fact, she needed a reason to stay just one more day. One day at a time. And after that one day at a time went stronger, she began to smile more, share more, see more. She felt more. Inside of which, she felt her reason to stay. She became the pillar of the Grace House. For sobriety. Inside of which, she knew what she had to do, and then? She just kept doing it.
After a very successful stay, Alice gave her notice. She was moving out. The sober house had met its purpose and now she was ready to move on. I helped her pack up her things. All set . All ready to go. Except for one thing…the hug. This time it was me asking for the hug.
Because it was earned. And because now? I needed it every bit as much as she did.
There were so many times in my life when I had it all figured out.
It’s a big shit thing, to have it all figured out. Never mind the fact that it was chicken scratch math. Never mind the fact that the cosmos were laughing harder than a Robin Williams audience. Never mind the fact that I wasn’t seeing the reality because I was too busy believing the unreality.
And then? Reality came along and punched me in the face.
Time. And time. And time. And time. And time. And time. And time. And? Yeah, time. Again.
It was epic fail shit, squared. It felled me in every kind of undulating way, curvaceous shape and hellacious form. It beat me senseless, rendered me useless. It owned me. Yeah, plain ass fact of the matter, owned.
And so, you ask. How the hell do you get back? To anywhere? From that?
It’s a great fucking question. And the answer is hard to find, probably because the answer is inside you. And, as most of us have come to learn the hard way, the mirror can pose the longest of all possible odds. Possession is eleventh tenths of that law of human nature that says it’s you against you. And this is why you have to get selfish. You have to get solid on the idea that selfish? Is the abbreviation for self preservation.
Don’t get me wrong here. This doesn’t mean to say that it’s cool to go out and pillage the village you came from. Nah, ah. No. The wherever it is you came from is not asking for your shit. It doesn’t care about your shit. And in most cases? It doesn’t deserve your shit. The bad shit you came from is your hurdle. The answer that’s fighting like hell to rise above the surface are your legs. And so it goes, that your jumps are a matter of the belief and conviction that were borne out of the forgettable practice that went into possessing them.
You can let the bad shit own you, or you can own the bad shit your damn self.
It’s about making the jump count.
You transcended time. Your beauty and grace bought you fame and fortune and your wisdom bought my respect and admiration.
You died alone that day, and I always have to ask . . . What were you thinking? I have to believe that maybe, just maybe, things would have been different, could have been different. If only one person could have felt your pain . . could have let you know it didn’t have to mean the end. Maybe that one person could have been the difference between losing yourself to the drugs and finding your way out.
I wear a t-shirt with your funny, naughty smile. It’s a smile that moves the sun into the rainiest of days. A smile that proves God knew what he was doing when he made you.
My only wish is that you would have known that too.