On Sarah’s 27th birthday, I had a Buddhist Ash Scattering Ceremony at my beloved Kantiang Bay in Thailand with a local monk. Many of my Ko Lanta friends joined me as the monk blessed my daughter’s ashes. Below is what I said:
Sarah Jordan Troyer was born at 9:41 pm on April 14th, 1992. She was due two weeks earlier on April Fool’s Day. But as was typical for Sarah, she had her own schedule. For two weeks before she was born, I exercised, I did jumping jacks, I ran on the treadmill, I even got in a hot tub to try to get this kid out of me. At one point during the 36 hours of hard labor (without drugs, mind you), I stood on the bed, screamed and cursed at the doctor and nurses and pleaded with them to cut my head off and take the baby out through my neck. Four hours later, just as I was about to give up, my beautiful, bouncing 9 pound 8 ounce baby girl with a full head of auburn hair was born. She was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I was only 20 years old.
This baby saved me. I worked hard and I made good choices, knowing the trajectory of her life was solely in my hands. Coming home to her each night was the best. Looking back, I still have no idea how I did it. Working full time, practically being a child myself, while raising this smart, inquisitive, passionate, and very strong-willed child on my own. It was a beautifully daunting task. My mom always said I’d have a daughter just like me someday. Momma was right.
It was me and her against the world. We laughed, we sang, we danced, nearly every day of her childhood. We turned dining room tables into our own personal surf boards as we danced to The Beach Boys. We’d listen to the heartbreaking sounds of Nina Simone while Sarah asked me about The Blues, Jazz, Religion, Love, and books. Even as a little girl, she understood that music was everything. That when you’re happy you understand the music, but when you’re sad you understand the lyrics. Sarah always understood the lyrics.
When Sarah was four years old, she didn’t speak for nearly a year: instead she sang everything to the tune from The Little Mermaid. Somehow, we both survived that phase, just as we’d survived the Barney years, the Teletubbies era, and even the heartbreaking teenage years. We survived because we had each other.
At 9 years old, her teachers wanted her to skip a grade or two. She was wicked smart. I didn’t allow it. I was only 16 when I finished high school so I knew all too well that growing up too soon could be a disaster.
At 13, Sarah was accepted into a high school for “high achievers” who had an art portfolio and a good GPA. Writing was Sarah’s art. If I could go back in time and change only one thing, I would have sent her to a different school. This is where she started using heroin at the tender age of 14. I won’t go into the details. I will just say, Sarah struggled with heroin addiction for the next 13 years. Now my baby girl is gone.
Please, do not think of my daughter as just a heroin addict. She was so much more. She always had wonder in her eyes. She’d give anything she had to anyone in need. Every single animal she ever met loved her. She could make anyone laugh at any time. And she was my light.
It took Sarah 36 hours to come into this world. It took her body 36 hours to leave it, even on maximum life support. Today is 63 days since her passing. In tarot numerology, each of these numbers add up to a 9, which is The Hermit. The Hermit is always going off alone in search of spiritual wisdom. I hope Sarah is now free to find what she’s been looking for.
They say love conquers all. The phrase is well intentioned but it’s false. If love conquered all, Sarah would be alive and well. Sarah was loved immensely. **I** loved her immensely. And she loved back, fully and completely. When Sarah loved you, you knew it. You could feel her love from across the world.
I hope you can feel a little of my daughter’s love today – just as I can feel yours.
I read something about grief, which said, “You don’t need solutions. You don’t need to move on from your grief. You need someone to see your grief, to acknowledge it. You need someone to hold your hands while you stand there in blinking horror, staring at the hole that was your life. Some things cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.”
Thank you for being here and for helping me carry this grief. I love you all.
I’ll conclude with Sarah’s favorite poem, I carry your heart, by EE Cummings:
I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart) I am never without it (anywhere I go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)
I fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) I want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true) and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than soul can hope, or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)
Jen Troyer ~ April 2019