Whit’s End: The spirit endures | PostIndependent.com
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Whit’s End: The spirit endures

Carla Jean Whitley
cj@postindependent.com

The concept grabbed me immediately. During Friday’s Day of the Dead celebration in Carbondale, the Que Viva ceremony will invite participants to shout out the name of someone who died in the previous year. It could be anyone, from musician Tom Petty to local ski instructor and artist Angus Graham, Carbondale Arts Executive Director Amy Kimberly said. The message is the same: As longtime Dia de los Muertos participant Richard Lyon puts it, “They live in spirit.”

Those who we’ve loved never truly leave us.

This year has been filled with death, many of them untimely. I suppose that’s always true, but 2017 seems to have had a personal effect on many in this community. Death has twice struck my family: My sister Cristin died in January, and my cat Mac died in April. I talk about both of them often, and I also talk to them on occasion. Because I’m the sort of person who talks to her pets, my cat Harry has listened to many of my monologues about the deaths of our sisters.

During one of those “conversations,” I heard wisdom spill from my lips: “It’s OK to love her present, even though she is past.”

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Que viva.

I won’t be able to attend this year’s celebration due to travel, but I’ve been grateful for the opportunity to speak with people involved in its organization. The event is special, a way to celebrate life and culture. You may not be of Mexican or other Latin American descent, but we’ve all known love and loss. We can all appreciate the opportunity to remember those we’ve cared for. We can all embrace lessons from others.

As I’ve interviewed people about the local event, I’ve selfishly asked one favor: If you remember, would you shout my sister’s name during the Que Viva? Cristin’s spirit is too colorful, too joyful to be forgotten.

She may no longer walk the earth, but her story lives on in me and in so many others who loved her.

Que viva.

Carla Jean Whitley is the Post Independent’s features editor. Reach her at cj@postindependent.com.


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