Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Eulogy for Jill St. Onge

I had to force myself to sit down at the computer tonight to compose this blog, so I apologize in advance for what will probably be a rambler. For knitting readers, the only relation this will have is perhaps a loose theoretical concept of the unexpected ways in which the fabric of our lives knit together and often unravel. Other than that, I got nothing for you at this time.

In journalism, they say that you gotta start with the facts, so here's the best I can do with that: My long time friend, Jill St. Onge, died suddenly and tragically this past Saturday while on the last leg of a three month journey throughout South East Asia with her fiance Ryan Kells. The details of how she died are chronicled in a blog that her brothers have set up here so I will not go into further details on that.

It's the why of her death that we can't seem to get to the root of, partly due to the distance, foreign government's cover-up attitudes, diplomatic bullshit, and who knows what other mysterious factors. The St. Onges and the Kells are doing their best to get to word out with as much media coverage as possible in an effort to get some actual answers and to prevent future deaths (the day after Jill died, two other tourist staying in the bungalow next to them became ill with similar symptoms, one of whom died).

This all feels so surreal. I can't really even think of how to string together words to express my sorrow and love for this crazy and wonderful person. I've been friends with Jill since we were 12 (so that's like, what, three, four years? I'm bad with numbers) and we have joked over the years that when we're old and have outlived our partners we'll be the crazy ladies of the neighborhood sitting out on the porch together sippin' brews. I guess now I'll be going solo in my rocker.

We have had that kind of friendship in which time and distance never meant much of anything. Whether it had been one day or one year since we last saw each other, when we came back together it was like no time was lost at all. Hell, she's knew the stuff that great friendships are made of. I love that girl to no end and I'm struggle to come to terms with the fact that this is one distance that I won't be able to cross. I'm learning what a broken heart feels like.

I've often thought of Jill as one of those crystals that hang in a sunny window, taking the light and reflecting it in new and unexpected ways throughout the room. Jill does exactly that - shining a new radiance on everything and everyone that she comes in contact with. I know in my life she did wonders, teaching me how to let go and not feel like I always have to be in control, to enjoy the moments in life as they come without over-planning for the future. Life happens and for Jill that's no understatement.

With Jill there is always a sense of adventure. As kids exploring in the hills in her back yard, teens sneaking off to check out the "haunted" abandoned boys school, taking hour long road trips to check out some ska/punk band that we've never heard of, driving, just driving anywhere to see where we'll end up, moving cross country on a lark... there was no end to her sense of curiosity. The thing I learned with every Jill adventure, be it big or small, was that it's the journey, not the destination that counts. When she said that she was taking a three month vacation backpacking through South East Asia with just a loose itinerary and some money in her pocket, I wasn't surprised. With Jill, you learn to expected the unexpected.

I feel like there is so much more I could write - pages, in fact - about my dear friend and our 16 year friendship and yet I don't have the words right now. If I could, I'd post some pictures from over the years to fill in for my lost words. As it is, I don't have a working scanner nor do I have the heart to sift through all my old photo albums.

I suppose that these will have to suffice for now. Here's a very un-Jill-ish photo at my wedding (because only if asked by a friend would she wear a dress like that) and then at her college graduation in 2006.

I guess the only thing left to say at this time is that I love Jill dearly and I can't imagine this world without her in it.