Remembering Maria

shanmaria

It’s been a long time since I posted on this blog. I’ve really been dedicating myself to finishing up my dissertation. I truly am in that home stretch, so all of my time has been focused on accomplishing that goal.

However, something terrible happened in the last couple of weeks that I wanted to write about. I feel the need to share this in order to help me process, so please stick with me.

For my undergraduate degree I attended Denison University. A small, private, liberal arts institution in Granville, Ohio. My freshmen year I decided to go through sorority recruitment, much like many of the other women at Denison. I was ready to meet new people and try a new experience. To take myself out of my comfort zone.

One of the first people I met was a young woman named Maria. When I first met Maria, I was intimidated. Not only was she beautiful, but she was well put-together. The kind of girl I always wanted to be, but never quite knew how to be like. She was well-dressed, had great shoes and carried a brand name handbag. I realize that these are all superficial things, but they certainly caught my eye.

But what really made the first impression for me was how freaking friendly this young woman was. Whether she realized it or not, she knew how to put me at ease. Even though I certainly didn’t have her sense of style and felt a little dumpy next to her, she made me feel welcome and like she was completely interested in what I had to say.

That moment sealed our friendship. Maria and I would be roommates, or hall mates all throughout our undergraduate studies. We shared many laughs together and tears. Maria was always up for an adventure and her laugh was contagious. I am the kind of person that doesn’t like to show emotion much, but when Maria laughed, you just had to smile.

This friendship was built to last, we graduated and moved to separate cities, but Maria, myself and the other women in our little group stayed close. We were there for weddings and babies and new jobs. Slowly we stopped talking as frequently, for Maria and I (I don’t think she ever knew this), but I hit a patch where I just didn’t understand her very well and just didn’t engage in conversation as much. I matured and sought out her friendship once again. Maria was so warm and open, months could go by, but she would talk to you as if it were just yesterday.

I’ve been struggling the last few weeks because we lost Maria. Just yesterday, something great happened at my job and my instinct was to text Maria….I’d forgotten that she wasn’t there. It makes me incredibly sad to think that I can’t share my life with her physically anymore.

My dissertation advisor reminded me that, although she isn’t immediately there anymore, I will always carry her with me. That her friendship was so meaningful that she is a piece of me. And that helps.

If there is one thing that I have taken away it’s to stop letting life get away from me. Maria lived life to the fullest every day. She chased her dreams, she was strong, courageous. She was certainly a good role model. I hope that I can be a little like her in that way.

So, in honor of my friend, I decided that there are two things that I am NOT going to put off anymore. First, I am going to finish my dissertation and attend graduation. Second, I am going to register for and start a 100 mile ultra. Whether I finish or not is neither here nor there, I have never had the courage to start. The closest I have ever come was the Hoosier Hundred. But, I am going to register for and start an official 100 mile ultra-event. I am going to accomplish both of these things before the one year anniversary of when we lost her.

Maria was the kind of person that kicked ass and took names. She pulled you along for the ride and you either held on or you got out of her way. If Maria had a guide to life, it would have two things 1) Be true to your family and friends and 2) Love life.

I’m going to take a page out of her handbook.