Choosing to maximize “G”

Interaction between Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Lieutenant Commander Data at the funeral for Lieutenant Natasha Yar:

Data: “Sir, the purpose of this gathering confuses me.”

Captain Picard: “Oh? How so?”

Data: “I find my thoughts are not for Tasha, but for myself.  I keep thinking, how empty it will be without her presence. Did I miss the point?”

Captain Picard: “No you didn’t, Data. You got it.”

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 2.51.56 PM

Up until today around noon, 365 days ago, my sister Carley was here with us.  She was making plans.  She had dreams, goals, and ambitions.  She was planning a future that she never got to see through.  And 365 days later the ones who love her are still picking up the pieces.

The first year since her accident has been a harsh glimpse into my new reality without my sister, who was and continues to be my closest friend.  It is a future that on one hand is without a doubt worse that it was when she was here sharing her presence, wisdom, and exuberance for life with everyone who knew her.  It is a future of empty chairs at special gatherings where Carley is supposed to be.  And of any eventual kids Davin and I might decide to have learning about “Aunty Carley” from stories and pictures.  It is not the future that I pictured.

As you might guess, I have often found myself in the past 365 days feeling sorry.  Not for the life that Carley has left unlived, but like Data, for the life that I will not get to live with her.

It’s selfish I get it.  To think only of my pain when there is so much good that I know she would have created with the “rest” of her life.  And so much the community where she gave her time would have benefitted.  So much potential good, lost.  Just by her not being here.

But is there a future where life can actually be better without my amazing, talented, giving, loving, hilarious, intelligent, ambitious, wonderful Seestor?  I have been wrestling with this question since the dust began to settle in the weeks following her accident.

I am an unfortunate optimist.  The kind that can be very annoying to be around, because sometimes things are just bad.  And you need to let them be bad.  But I have always had a glass mostly full perspective on life.  And eventually that part of my personality, once I began to come out of the darkness that followed her accident, began to raise its annoying head.  And part of my grieving process has been to address this question.  Because a future that is only ever going to be worse than it once was, is in a way inconceivable for my brain to process.

Car and I shared a love for math.  So here is a conversation that I envision having with her (and both of us getting a bit of a kick out of!):

Let       LAC=    Life after Carley

            LWC=   Life with Carley

LAC LWC

[Life after Carley is greater-than or equal to, Life with Carley]

But how is it possible to create as much or more good, than would have been created by her being here?

Well for one, I believe there is value for Carley personally in “moving on” to whatever her soul’s next journey holds.  So that takes some of the pressure off…  Since her accident I have had a strong feeling that it was her time to “move on”, to whatever it is that we move on to after we are done our physical journey.  I choose to believe that is true, as difficult as it can be at times.

So:

Let       LAC=    Life after Carley

            LWC=   Life with Carley

            VCS=    Value to Carley’s soul of finishing her physical journey and moving on to what is next

LAC + VCS ≥ LWC

[Life after Carley, plus the Value to Carley’s Soul of embarking on her next chapter is greater-than or equal to, Life with Carley]

Then the rest is trying to find what else I can put on the left hand side, to balance the equation.

Although Carley’s spiritual journey has newly begun, her physical journey is now complete.  She no longer has the physical ability to learn, improve herself and her relationships with others, and to give back.  (On a side note, I am so proud of her for doing such a kick ass job at all of that while she was here!).  However we do.  The ones left behind still have the opportunity to explore our own personal boundaries and push through previous ceilings that we create for ourselves.

So for me, this power that we have to capture what is left of our finite number of days alive, and do the most that we personally can with them, is the variable that has the potential to make life after Carley (LAC), as good as, or maybe even better than life with Carley (LWC).  I will call this “G”, for “growth”, or “good”, or “giving”:

Let       LAC=    Life after Carley

           LWC=   Life with Carley

            VCS=    Value to Carley’s soul of finishing her physical journey and moving on to what is next

            G=     Opportunity for growth and continued learning

LAC + VCS + G ≥ LWC

[Life after Carley, plus the Value to Carley’s Soul of embarking on her next chapter, PLUS the Opportunity for Growth for those of us still physically present, is greater-than or equal to, Life with Carley]

So my goal is to maximize what I have the power to control.  To maximize my opportunity for growth (G).  To take everything I learned from my amazing, inspirational sister, and channel that into creating the best future for myself and loved ones, and to fully realize the potential inside of me.  I am much more careful with the choices I make now.  Much more conscious of the responsibility I have to keep my personal equation balanced so that life after Carley’s accident can feel bearable to me.  And my hope is that in helping myself I can also create good in the world and give back (more “G”).  It can never be the same, but I can at least try to put back some of the goodness we lost when Carley left us.

And so I am left with the question: Is it possible for life to actually be better after Carley is gone?

While everything inside me still rails against agreeing that it is possible, I am at least aware of what I can control to make the above statement true.  And it gives me something to look forward to, and work towards.

I know I have shared this quote many times since her accident.  But it remains as impactful for me a year later, as it did when I first discovered it in her journal following her accident. And I like to think that in a way, she left it in her journal for me to find, and take comfort:

“There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”

 

John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

 

I love you Seestor! Forever in our hearts, thoughts, dreams, and everything good that I am able to achieve in what time I have left!

RAWR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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4 thoughts on “Choosing to maximize “G”

  1. My dear Libby, you obviously put a great deal of thought into your write up. Still full of pain but ever the realist (or optimist). My beliefs are similar to yours in that I believe life is too short for this to be all there is. Perhaps Carlikins learned all she could on this plane and was needed for bigger and better things. Your G might also be for gratitude that she was in your life in a special way that no one else had the privilege of knowing. You were a wonderful big sister, mentor and friend just as, I’m sure, you are a wonderful mate for Davin and, perhaps someday, a terrific Mother. You will never stop growing. It’s who you are. Much love, Linda

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