Last year, my cousin and his then fiance asked me if I would participate in their wedding ceremony to recall the spirit of Eddie’s sister. Today, I feel compelled to share what I wrote here.
“On the Occasion of the Wedding of Eddie Martinez and Andrea Thome: Recalling Lauren”
She was taller than me, then, being older than I was. She was inquisitive, opinionated, empathetic, yes. Diligent, a dedicated student. A poet. Love, really. Love dictated her life, even in confronting her trials, love was her gift to those of us who knew her.
I had no idea that with my aging my memory of Lauren would grow into its own shape of life; that in keeping her, the abstract qualities I admired in her personhood would, over time, change and change me entirely. Even in writing this, it is hard. I feel as though I can’t look back, I have to look forward. Plaint of Mirah, pillar of salt …
I think the only way I can possibly articulate how I experience Lauren before and after this space is to share with you the conversations I have recently had with the portion of myself that is her—you see, my whole brief life has been predicated by hers. It was after her passing in which she gave me her gift of poetry, the craft to which I have dedicated my life.
This is my way in carrying the memory of Lauren in my life, and I hope that this can be a moment for us to think about the ways in which we each do that.
In my youth I thought of poetry as a means to resolve my rage at her passing while simultaneously serving as a banner I could take up in her memory. Because of this history, I have always equated my relationship with Lauren to my relationship with poetry. Over time, this relationship grew, and with it my relationship to her grew. Poetry became, for me, an attempt at articulating that which exists beyond the cusp of what language can convey; it became an attempt at discovering the unknown, the unknowable through the great failure of language. This became my endeavor because it was the best I could muster to understand Lauren’s existence beyond death. You see, to me, Lauren exists where language fails, and while so many might assume that a poet loves language, I do not. I pursued this craft in spite of language—out of the rage, tranquility and peace that comes with being, as we all are, ultimately inarticulate. I write to understand the eternally unknowable. I write to lose myself in the eternally unknowable. And if I can hint at, if I can articulate, just a moment of that oblivion, I have accomplished my endeavor as a poet. It is in this way that my memory of Lauren has assumed new life, as this is something I engage with every day. While I have regarded the qualities Lauren possessed in life as standards by which to hold myself. Lauren’s being, her presence, her memory, have grown to encompass so much more in that she exists in the unsaid of all things. That I may, at any point, casually open the doors to laughter, to sorrow and find her, somehow, on the other side. This is what she has become, unexpected moments of resolve, that in the hours in which I doubt myself, I can recall why it is that I came to where I am and to then hold my memory of her as a tenet of my core. Lauren grounds me in my voice. Today. Her memory provides me with the affirmations to say, outloud, no, this is unjust, yes, this is my sound. In this way, she has grown into my source of resistance too.
This is the best I can do—this is the best I can do in this moment, here before all of you. She influenced this much. Even now, in thinking about my relationship with her through writing (again), I know that I can’t evoke her all alone, this is something that everyone who knew her has to do.
For those of you who didn’t know her. I wish you would have. She was very special to our family. She was kind. Her spirit is strong in us now.