Just start writing.
Put symbols through finger movements and spread an idea out for everyone to see all over the world.
The body of Julia Campbell, a fellow Peace Corps volunteer and close friend, has just been found near the village of Batad in Ifugao province. As the official and unofficial media have reported, she went missing on April 8th while on vacation in the central cordillera mountains of central Luzon island, the Philipines.
A google search for info about her disappearance
But those are the facts and facts are, by their nature, devoid of emotion.
Julia was a damn good cook. I would invite myself over for dinner on a regular basis, partially because I am lazy and didn't want to go through the motions of learning to cook, but mostly because she made a mean ginataan (A dish prepared in fresh coconut milk).
Julia and I were sitemates in Legazpi City, Albay (Bikol region) and were very close friends. In the Peace Corps time spent with other volunteers is prized; we all need support and can't find it when we are alone and without any kind of familiarity. The bond formed between volunteers is a very deep one formed in an environment of constant traumatic stress.
The counselor from the Peace Corps head office told us that any volunteer who goes to a therapist and tells his/her story gets the same reaction. All American therapists brand Peace Corps volunteers as "Shell Shocked" (or, for the more politically correct among you, suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
She had her stresses and would spout off to me at every chance she got about the trials and tribulations of work and school and her arrangements to go home. She had already been accepted to NYU and to say she was excited about going home understates it drastically. She had been planning a post-Peace Corps trip back through southeast asia. Her Peace Corps service was wrapping up and her mind had already begun to shift gears back to the NYC mindset.
Then she disappeared. Then her body reappeared.
I don't know how I am supposed to write about something like this.
How can I do a human life justice? As my mom once said, if a picture is worth a thousand words, then an experience is worth a million pictures; I would add that to describe the complete truth of any human life is beyond pictures or experience and that only sharing the moment with that other soul can give a glimpse of an understanding.
So far I have stuck with the facts as I understand them, so I guess I will continue:
Nothing is permanent. Sorrow comes from attachment to things assumed to be permanent (people, ideas, etc). There is no why in this instance. Her life was not "good" or "bad," "virtuous" or "evil." She was.
You can rationalize and discuss the hows and whys and shoulds of this situation, but there are countless emotions that will boil to the surface. These emotions cannot and should not be controlled; let them come. As much as attachment hurts when it is taken away, you cannot feel alive as a human being without those harsh, visceral emotions. It is better to have an emotional rollercoaster of a life than one that remains flat and constant. Embrace impermanence in all things including emotions.
About 50 of the volunteers from Peace Corps Philippines were sitting in the same room listening to information regarding the search for her when the news came in that her body had been found in a ravine near a trail. Until that instant, we were all tortured by uncertainty and kept happy only through the hope that this was a kidnapping and that she was still alive. Now we have certainty and, although we are not happy, we can begin the healing process. I wept for her and I will certainly cry again; she had a great deal of close friends, about whom I can say the same.
Rest in Peace, Julia Campbell.