Tuesday, June 9, 2009

One of the reasons I'm doing this...

Evan's mom, Melissa, keeps a fabulous caringbridge site to help keep everyone informed about Evan's treatment and all the fun stuff going on in their lives, too. Often, she includes links to other children's sites. And those parents include links to others, and so on. (I've listed some of those links in the left hand column.) So I'm not sure which site led me to "meet" Jessica Randall, but I'm so thankful that they did.

Jessica was 16 years old when she had an unexpected, terrifying grand mal seizure in April 2006. Soon afterwards, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor (
anaplastic astrocytoma). Her mom Heide started a caringbridge site, and I followed it closely. Jessica reminded me instantly of my own students. She took countless pictures of herself in the mirror and wrote in a journal and loved her Myspace page and music and drawing and photography.

Jessica turned 17 on June 6, 2007 while she was home on Hospice care. Three days later, she passed away.

After her death, Heide slowly and carefully started reading some of her journal writings and posted some of them on the caringbridge site. Here is one of my favorites.

dear me,

don't let them sell your life back to you. squander nothing, make your own private monuments, disengage yourself from any love that's driven by fear or security or comfort. stop running after consolation prizes and talking about how bored you are or how disappointing you find other people. go after yourself and overcome inertia. rupture continuums and don't let the dust settle.

remember that there's always more than one truth and they don't always run in ascending order. shape yourself, taste rooftops, tear down the walls between the life you lead and the life you wish you led. chart frontiers, explore secret worlds, don't let your dreams only answer to the closest things, be the protagonist in your own epic grand tale. remember that there's nothing stoic about silence. understand that not everything comes at a price. be vocal, be vocal, be vocal. don't forget all the things thousands of miles away from you. don't live the life that's been prepared for you, don't stomach another hour of it.

act on the world that acts upon you and fight without borders or flags, because there's nothing left to lose control over and everything to gain.

--Jessica Randall


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