Sunday, March 30, 2008

My Attempt at Honoring Alanna - by Erin

Side note: Alanna would have appreciated this cafe. She held each person responsible for thier own feelings and actions. Not a bad model to live by. Now back to my emotional speech:

I think at these kinds of gatherings we often hear about the positive qualities in the person. Of which Alanna had many. It is actually not hard to remember all the good she brought to this world. Creativity, leadership, bravery and a sense of adventure come to mind. But, as I reflect upon her spirit I remember that she was also bossy, opinionated, and sometimes insecure.

In moments of this insecurity she found herself wondering whether her jobs as a homeless prevention worker, a ropes course instructor, a tram operator, or a church secretary really mattered. She was plagued with the question if she was really doing what she was meant to do in this life- was she doing what God called her to do; or if she really making a difference. I think we all at some point in our lives have wonderings like this.

I ached for her during these moments because I realized that she did not know how much she touched other’s lives. And touch them she did. If there was any question of this before she died, there is none now. Visits to her hospital room by scads of well wishers, over 3000 website hits, and all the testimonies folks have in her honor continue to sing her praises- it is amazing and almost surreal.

Anticipating her death allowed us to express love with her and with each other. She was and continues to be a conduit, a catalyst, an instrument of love.

Alanna took an active rather than passive approach as she faced her uncertainty. I don’t know about you, but if I heard I had cancer- especially the aggressive kind she experienced, I would probably be immobilized, stuck in patterns of self pity or be down right rebellious. No, Alanna was not going to go down that way, she would go down, her way. She set upon planning her last days, planning a vacation, planning this event and deciding each day how to spend it.

As she pondered her upcoming death, she served as an example to those around her.
She lived within some principals that I think are worth mentioning. Include people in your life, love them the best you can, accept help when you need it, do what you can, live till your dying day and when you leave, leave with a little style. Her way also included inspiring others to goals.

Last night I was watching a movie called Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. In that movie, Mr. Magorium was letting Mahoney (a young woman) know that he would be leaving soon (dying), and he would be giving her his magical toy store as an inheritance. Mahoney decides to spend time with Magorium in special ways so that he would realize that life is good and he would be convinced that he did not need to go. So she takes him to a clock shop. They spend time mischievously setting each clock to go off at noon as the clock shop attendant looks on with a quizzical look. The picture zooms in to frame their faces so we can witness their covert conversation as they anticipate the sounding off of the chimes. She says, “Now we wait,” and he quickly corrects her by saying, “No, we breathe, we pulse, we regenerate, our hearts beat, our minds create, our souls ingest, And, 37 seconds well used is a lifetime.”

Alanna seemed to get this concept- about framing time. As she anticipated how to spend the time before her death (her 37 seconds), she chose to see it as a time to create, a time to feel, a time to heal, a time to express, a time to desire, and ultimately a time to live.

I have talked a bunch about what a gift her death was to me. Lastly, I would like to share what her gift to me in life was to me. She loved me. It really is that simple. And if you have ever really been loved and accepted you get what I am talking about.

She had the grace to love you me where I was, called me out when she thought I needed it, and ultimately allowed me to be me. It doesn’t get much better than that.

So, we continue on. Remembering and doing our best to live out what we learn. I thank you Alanna for teaching us.

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