365 Days

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles
In laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life
How about LOVE?

Season of Love, Rent

I will preface this post by saying, my astrological sign is Cancer. I am a water baby. I am ruled by the moon, emotion front and center. I go between trying to be funny (at least I think I am) and bawling like a baby. As I sit here on this over-sized Cheetah chair with my legs sitting pretzel style (they don’t touch the floor) and my laptop on top, I relive the past year and a big missing part of my life…so here we go!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018, I woke up early. I was in between full-time employment and had been focusing on the Atelier and styling to help coast until I was gainfully employed again. This particular morning I had a scheduled TV segment about earth day and building a sustainable wardrobe. I arrived at the studio at 6:40am with the wardrobe for my friends who were serving as models. The segment was quick but great and a happy escape from my reality at the moment.

My friend and I went for coffee afterwards. We headed over to Zendo for the cool hipster vibe. She looked incredible in in the Raven dress so I thought we’d get a couple of photos, and we really needed some time to catch up. We did. It was wonderful. We were both in a crossroads in our life and just trying to figure shit out.

I spent the afternoon, on my laptop waiting for KRQE to release the video, seeing images of a Southwest plane grounded by an accident. Thinking this was a million miles away, I said prayers for the affected family, never thinking it would be close to home.

As I sink in the sand
Watch you slip through my hands
Oh, as I <am> here another day, yeah
‘Cause all I do is cry behind this smile

Jealous, Labyrinth

I received a text message from a friend saying, “Did you hear?” I responded, “Hear what?” and my worst nightmare came to life. I don’t think I’ve cussed more in my life and then the text messages and calls started coming in. My heart sank and I fell to the floor. I was in shock but was so grateful to friends that didn’t let me sink into a hole of hiding. We went to Our Lady of Annunciation to say a prayer and talked about memories afterward.

Unbelievable moments happened in the following days.

I opened my home with so much love to a friend I hadn’t seen in a couple of years and made plans for her celebration of life with friends traveling from all over the country. It was a celebration of her sparkle and her impact on this community from the mass, to the community celebration, to the small group celebrations afterward. I know she was smiling from above.

I saw people I hadn’t seen in years. We were brought together in our love and grief. The best way for me to move through my emotions was to write, create and check on others. I will never ask what happened and will stop you if you try to tell me. All I know is that a part of me has been ripped from my fiber, yet what I have found in the past year is that she is still here, like a patch or a stitch fix, and I am eternally grateful.

In the following weeks, I attended my first social event in months if not a year. It was the perfect event. I was with my dear friend. We were not only honoring Jennifer, but an incredible organization we were both involved with, Special Olympics of New Mexico. The day following I received this message.

That is who she was. She loved proudly and loudly. I remember just days after her death being asked if I ever felt that she only supported me to try to earn Wells Fargo business and as much as I loved this person, this comment totally pissed me off. She NEVER in one single instant tried to sell me the bank’s interests, she supported me wholly and fully on her own, which was a rarity. I loved and still love her for all she does for those she loves and I hoped she knew I did the same.

May 17, 2018 – I woke to this email. After researching to see if this was a fake and realizing it was not, I knew she had a hand it it. So, for the first installment with British Vogue, I choose my first customer, my first model and my dear friend to represent Hopeless + Cause Atelier.

I love that Oprah still has this cover photo as her photo on Twitter. It reminds me of Jennifer in so many ways.

In June, I was asked to share some empowering advice for the National Conference on Volunteering and Service. It was my opportunity to share the impactful advice she shared with me about failure.

Her influence continued as I was sought out with future editorials in British Vogue, British GQ and Vanity Fair UK. And, always sealed with a kiss. I told you she wouldn’t just let it stop there.

June 28, 2018 – I was walking out of an Isotopes Game with colleagues, when handed the latest issue of Albuquerque the Magazine. I opened the “Heroes” page to her, of course I did.

Michael, her husband, talked about her work with Fathers Building Futures, who she was an early supporter of. Immediately I reached out to the founder, who was my dear friend and mentioned the article. She was there guiding the work….and in her way, saying “Don’t give up!”

I got her message of the importance of time and spending it with those who we hold dear. I was also reminded that I needed to create because I had put it on the back burner for months. On September 22, 2018, I hosted Under the Sun. It was a runway event to showcase my work and the fun of fashion. I reached out to Michael to see if their daughter could attend. I wouldn’t put him or their son through a fashion show. She attended with friends and that made my heart absolutely full. It also put the pressure on me to make it an incredible memorial event to honor Jennifer.

August 29, 2018 – Then I had the most profound dream about Jennifer and a mutual friend who was getting married. I was reminded about the craziness of life and how we get lost when we don’t make time for what’s truly important. I woke from that dream so HAPPY to dream about her but also missing her incredibly, but I got it.

There are things that now stop me in my tracks to reflect and provide a reminder that she is with me.

Jennifer Riordan. (Courtesy of the Riordan family) dhanson@abqjournal.com Tue Apr 17 18:22:51 -0600 2018 1524010970 FILENAME: 1074359.jpg

I see this shared all over and I can’t help but smile, while my heart breaks.

I used to say a wish at 11:11, now I say a prayer and send my love to where ever she is.

Anytime some I love travels I tell them, “safe travels” or even more “Vaya con Dios” — go with God.

November 11, 2018 (11/11) – her birthday, I had planned to attend Denver Fashion Week, but had been so sick the previous week I had to cancel those plans. Instead, I participated in a local Albuquerque show. It was what I needed, but found something more–another reminder of her presence. A photographer/videographer captured the VIP pre-show. I watched the video for the first time to see the mannequin models in Hopeless + Cause Atelier. I watched it a second time and realized something that gave me chills. The Jazz band was playing, “Isn’t She Lovely”. It was the song I put to my photo montage of her….I felt her presence in that moment and felt the warmth that nothing could explain.

? : Dysonna Theatrical Art Dysonna

Posted by Dru Lopez on Sunday, November 11, 2018

January 4, 2019 – I was celebrating another BFF’s birthday at Hotel Andaluz and went to the restroom. I was reminded of the time we did a fitting there and her fear of standing barefoot on the floor. We created a make shift floor cover. Then as I walked out, I reminisced about the time I heard her snort as she yelled from the mezzanine above, “I know that laugh anywhere”, referring to me.

I am completely blessed that I have so many good memories of her and how new ones rise to the surface when I meet with friends.

I don’t know how to explain it. Jennifer has pushed me when I have wanted to throw my hands up and give up, or runaway, or settle in what I’m doing. In fact this week when my life is once again playing on the unexpected, I returned to the office on Monday and I had an email with this Ted Talk.

This is a must watch if you’ve been living adjacent to grief but not been stricken by it yet. It will make you laugh and cry.

I started to watch this at work. I was laughing and crying at the same time and because I didn’t want to be asked questions about, “what was wrong with me?”, I set it aside. As the speaker says, “grief is uncomfortable” and many people don’t know how to deal with it. A couple of weeks ago, I came across this quote from Brene Brown and realized it’s important to share in that moment with others.

Tomorrow (or actually later today, because it’s midnight), I will reach out to those who’ve lost this incredible human being. But before doing that, I needed to be reminded of beauty, so I reached out to friends and asked them to tell me about the most beautiful place they visited and why? I needed to be comforted by how in my grief there is SO MUCH beauty yet to be discovered. Here is what I found:

Within the responses, there were places ALL over the world and places close to where their hearts lie. Beauty was found through all the senses and their their own personal experiences and sometimes with those they love or around a life changing event. This reminded me that in order to find beauty you have to look around to see it. I knew it was easier to talk about beauty, travel and experience than to speak about love and loss, but why is that?

This Ted Talk spoke to me over and over. I totally agree with the speaker, people expect you to move on when someone has died. And Jennifer still is present in my life and everything I do. While physically not here, she is found what I create, in the opportunities presented to me and in the beauty of the world. All week I’ve been sharing my photos of Jennifer. I have felt twisted about doing it…but why do I have to? Just because she’s not physically here with me doesn’t mean I need to hide her or not share her incredible style, sparkle and spunk. She is part of who I am and I am choosing to celebrate that.

And all I can taste is this moment
And all I can breathe is your life
And sooner or later it’s over
I just don’t wanna miss you tonight

And I don’t want the world to see me
‘Cause I don’t think that they’d understand
When everything’s meant to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

Iris, Goo Goo Dolls

Later this morning, my friend, Laurie and I will visiting a local non-profit sharing Jennifer’s motto, “Always be Kind, Loving, Caring & Sharing.” If I can add my own advice, live this way and live life to the fullest. Find beauty in everything, even grief.

With so much LOVE and light,
Dara Sophia

2 thoughts on “365 Days”

  1. Oh sweet Dara. All to be said through tears is – I love you. You are blessed and burdened ?with a true gift. Thank you for sharing your emotions. You never cease to show how we are connected through your words, song and quote choices such as Iris “Just want you to know who I am…” Sooo grateful to you. So many shared memories you let me relive. Gently. ❤️

  2. Pingback: Labyrinth

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