Last year on this day my friend Briana Blackwelder died in a car accident driving from Utah to California to visit her family for Easter. (I celebrated her life by writing about her here.) I am so grateful that her family allowed her celebrations (not funerals) to be available online so that those living far away could view them. I was lifted up. I was reminded of the beauty and fragility of life by the words her dearest friends and family spoke. I was specifically touched by the words her brother, Ian, spoke and I’ve thought about them from time to time this past year. Ian had been driving the car, you see, yet spoke in very high spirits at the celebration. Many people asked him how he could be so happy and smile at that time and he commented that he knew that she was alright and that was how it was supposed to be. Somehow that was how it was supposed to be.
Here we are a year later and I’m wondering what have I done to celebrate Bri besides just remembering her. I guess I didn’t make a conscious list of things to change in my life though I certainly thought more about the way I’d like to pass on. Her family buried her in a lovely, quiet, green/foresty area in Northern California and a friend made a beautiful casket out of simple wood with ferns etched in and dyed a lovely green. Ferns were her symbol for her midwifery practice and life in general. The whole process was simple, meaningful, and loving.
Just remembering, however, doesn’t do much good unless it’s changed you for the better. Briana was stellar at speaking to your heart and valuing relationships. I’m not always the best at that. I am the worst at calling people (I hate the phone) and would prefer to work on my own projects than do anything else. I need to prioritize the people I love most and show them I care.
A couple of week’s ago, Bri’s family asked us to remember her today by
reading to a child, watching the birds, reconnecting with an old friend, going on a hike, taking a yoga class, eating pastries, buying something lovely for yourself, mending a broken relationship.
I’ve been thinking what I would do and resolved to visit a friend who I’ve been needing to make contact with for some time. Then this morning I was presented with another opportunity to just listen to someone while they explained something that was bothering them. Sometimes listening is hard for me because I love maintaining my schedule. Then at the store I had another opportunity to help someone out and got a smile in return (that’s a big deal!). While at the store I bought two light pink geraniums (I forgot bags so I ended up sticking them in my pockets as I walked home, see above); one to remember Briana and the other to give to my friend. I can’t wait to see these beauties grow. I suppose there are constantly ways to help other people if you just make yourself available and look for them.
A friend of Briana’s made the video above. These two midwives had been invited by the Women’s World Heath Initiative to help launch a program to save mothers and babies in Senegal. Even after her passing Bri was able to give in a small and beautiful way. Watch it to find out how. It’s a beautiful story.
Bri, I’m thinking of you.