Life After Loss: For Emily Cotter Hauze

“Those who are dead are not dead
They’re just living my head
And since I fell for that spell
I am living there as well, oh

Time is so short and I’m sure
There must be something more”

-Colplay, “42”

About two months ago, life changed. It seems like a moot point to say that because the only constant in life is change.

But life really did change.

I received a text, followed by a phone call, days of shock, weeks of sorrow, and finally… peace. One of my closest friends, Emily Cotter Hauze, died unexpectedly while visiting Baltimore—a city that, regardless of statistics, had become a home for many.

Even seeing that sentence now — in black and white — is still something of a surreal experience. How could her name and death rest so closely together? It doesn’t make sense. Though the facts, in all their certainty, state that my friend is gone, I know she is still here with me.

This being the first time I’ve really wrote about Emily might make this piece a bit of jumble. But if you, dear reader, have experienced loss this closely, you’ll understand that reality quickly blurs into indecipherable shades of emotion. The blacks and blues of sorrow, blending with the pinks and greens of gratitude, yellows for the joy of having experienced a slice of life together, the white of peace, and deep reds of love. And love is what remains, always.

Making sense of Emily’s departure is not a goal to be accomplished. It’s a journey to understanding, while not denying the pain that manifests when a piece of your heart becomes crystalized with the moments and the memories you shared together. Somehow, you begin to piece together those times, aiming to preserve the life that beamed from a soul that so gracefully crossed your path.

Her presence is still tangible. Sunshine. Kittens. Songs on the radio. You feel the goose bumps on your arms remembering; you say hello to open space. Trusting that your message and prayers are received.

The beauty of Em’s life rests in the message she lived and breathed.

Stay true to yourself.
Take chances.
Love.
Dance.
Sing.

Not one to take herself too seriously — and with a laugh that lifted any room — she was sunshine personified. To say I miss her in an understatement—and I’m just one heart in the world of many that she touched with her genuine friendship and love.

One of her favorite quotes speaks to this truth. In Elizabeth Gilbert’s words, “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings.”

Miss you, Em.

Love you, even more.

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