A Little Less Sunshine
The news hit me in the gut… “Our beloved Allen is gone, Sose is in a coma.”
…Allen is gone and Sose is in a coma. How can Sose exist, live, breathe without Allen? How can Allen be gone, what does that mean, gone?
Horror in the pit of my stomach, I stand, I walk, I sit again, I cover my face to hide the unspeakable anguish. My husband grabs the computer and reads the heartwrenching news. Then the phone calls, the texts and the final blow, a final cal: “Maria, Sose is gone too.” There’s a deafening silence in my head. Numb, stupor and disbelief.
Gone? Where did they go? But I was just reading their posts on their way to their long-weekend in Georgia. Allen had posted that he was at the Armenian-Georgian border with Sose. We were all getting together Wednesday at Salpi’s for dinner. There had been a flurry of e-mails between friends, jabs, jokes, food to be eaten and stories to be told. What do you mean they’re gone? Sose had promised to bring soup and sing a Tata song, no doubt for Paula’s benefit.
Sitting in the corner of the couch, talking and texting with friends late into that sorrowful night, I kept replaying their wedding in my mind. We had been honored to be a part of it, to witness their oath of love and commitment to one another and to their homeland. Their parents, siblings, and friends had traveled thousands of miles from the U.S. to help realize this dream. They wed at an ancient Armenian church nestled in the mountains and then celebrated and danced late into the night on the shores of Lake Sevan. Vache, Sose’s brother was their best man – and not only. He was their best everything. He was their rock, their confidante, their anchor, their protector, he was an integral part of their connection to each other in a way that no one else could be…The Armenia contingent of «older» friends present at their wedding, Alex, Hambik, Salpi and I watched in wonderment as Vache made sure every detail, every precious moment was executed to their wishes and desires. He was there, present every single second of that joyous occassion. We were awestruck. The three of them were a gift to each other.
Now, Vache, his parents and Allen’s family have to find the way, the faith and the strength and to live without them. So do we all.
Their world, our world has changed inextricably, there’s a little less sunshine in it now.
What is striking for those of us left behind struggling to soften the corners of this bitter blow is the impact that Allen and Sose had which spanned generations and continents. The American University of Armenia, Asbarez Newspaper, Civilitas/Civilnet, ANCA, AYF Youth Corps, ARS, AYF Armenia, Armenia Fund and a number of other organizations posted announcements expressing their condolences and grief over this tragedy. This young couple had been able to leave a legacy in their short lives that the rest of us can only hope to achieve over a lifetime. It speaks volumes about their character, integrity and dedication. They lived and breathed and negotiated the Armenian dream in a way that can’t be formulated into coherent words, not yet at least, the pain is still too raw. And it wasn’t only the repat community in Armenia that was shaken; local news agencies picked up the news, reports were filed, articles are being written about a young Armenian couple, born and raised in foreign lands, who had made the impossible decision to return to the homeland and start a new life. People who didn’t know Allen and Sose personally are grieving alongside those of us who had the privilege of having them be a part of our lives.
A dear friend expressed it the best: “They were the type of magnet people that everyone wants to know and the chaos that ensued after rumors of the accident was star power level. And Sose, well, she was just a girl that liked to bake and wanted to be friends and go shopping for fabric and haggle over fruit prices and try and find a job and teach me how to bake cakes without wheat flour.”
Yes, Allen was just a boy who was determined to leave his imprint on our world, even if he didn’t know he was doing it, and Sose was just a girl whose smile, grace and intelligence was radiant beyond measure.
Two beautiful, young souls who were inseparable in life are now together somewhere else, far from all of us, united in another dimension, united for eternity as they had sworn to be. I don’t know about destiny or heaven for that matter. I don’t know about logic and justice and fairness. I just know that my life and countless other lives were touched by the grace of Allen and Sose. May their souls repose in peace, may their families, their mothers and fathers especially find the strength to cope with this immeasurable loss and perhaps find consolation in knowing that they raised two spectacular human beings, and for Vache, I know that God will honor his presence in their lives by yet to be discovered adventures. He has two angels now guiding him with their light and the rest of us can honor their short presence in our world by following Allen’s mantra: “While the prudent stand and ponder the fool has already crossed the river.”