For Risa. September 31st.
There's no such thing as the 31st of September.
So when I say that it's been six months since Risa left, I feel a little disappointed with September for not giving her that extra day, which I think she deserves. Was it six months yesterday? Or is it today, the first of October? If we're being specific, it's been one hundred and eighty-four days, which is more than half of three hundred and sixty-five. Was it six months on Thursday, then?
Somehow, one hundred and eighty-four days seems to be a more accurate measurement than six months.
I'm not the only one who's missed her, Laughter, for one hundred and eighty-four days,
Nor am I the only one to ache, for one hundred and eighty-four days, for her infectious smile and bright eyes, her poise, and her kindness.
How do you express the infinite expanse of a life in just a few words? May I be so bold as to assert that it's an impossible feat? The more language I use to describe Risa, the less adequate the words feel. And, unfortunately, the more people I meet who haven't known Risa, the harder it becomes to capture her essence with mere linguistic description. The best I can do is to borrow a passage from Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables:
"Have you ever imagined what it must feel like to be divinely beautiful?"
"Well now, no, I haven't," confessed Matthew ingenuously.
"I have, often. Which would you rather be if you had the choice--divinely beautiful or dazzlingly clever or angelically good?"
"Well now, I--I don't know exactly."
"Neither do I. I can never decide."
I've lost track of the number of times Railee and I discussed our respective approaches to this conundrum. We still haven't exhausted the subject, but whenever it comes around again, I think of Risa. Risa was a complete portrait of beauty, wisdom, and goodness, and if I may add, integrity, faith, virtue, courage, charity, and so much more.
I am grateful to count myself among the few and infinitely blessed to have known and befriended Risa Whitaker before she quickly finished her work among us. To know her was to be changed by her. And the truest way I've found to express her influence and legacy is to reflect back to others the light I gleaned from her over the years. 'Risa' means 'laughter', and Risa means 'light'. Of all the lives she's touched, there isn't a single one that Risa hasn't changed.
Not one of those one hundred and eighty-four days has passed that I haven't thought of Risa and remembered silly and important things like how she used to dot her 'i's with circles, how she literally couldn't hurt a fly, and how we used to tease her for crossing her eyes when she ate with a fork.
Oh, how I miss her.
And oh, how I marvel at the joy she continues to spread.
This is my tribute to Risa -wholly inadequate and the best I can do.