In memory of Bridget Miller
When I last spoke to Bridget, it was a mere three or four days before she was to make a trip across the country from Colorado to Anna Maria. The likely plan was that she and her best friend would rent my family’s duplex for a couple of months. She was excited about returning here to see some of her closest friends and to settle again on Anna Maria Island.
I didn’t have a chance to speak to her again.
Instead, a call on the morning of Aug. 2 informed me that Bridget and some friends had been in a car accident on the way back from the airport, and that Bridget had been killed. At that moment, the dominant thought in my mind was that something like this couldn’t have happened again. It was little more than two years ago when another close friend of both mine and Bridget’s, Ryan Keller, was killed in a similarly unpredictable scenario.
It was with that initial experience of loss that my friends and I first had to grapple with ideas such as mortality, and the incredible fragility of life.
It’s strange to reflect on the times that came before all of that, when the concept of death was something so foreign to me, as it no doubt had been to most of my friends. Of course, feelings like those never really change. When does it feel natural to lose a friend? But, as always with loss, there is a celebration of memories in its wake.
Bridget was a unique individual. She started out life wanting to be a veterinarian and later on decided that she’d like to be a nurse. Whatever the career idea, there was always an emphasis on helping others. This sense of altruism probably explains why she could so easily befriend new people. As her family here on the Island put it, "Bridget loved the Island and the fact that she was so close to her friends here. She had a wonderful sense of humor and was able to find laughter in everything; there were countless inside jokes that she shared with her friends. No matter where she was, she was liked by the people that met her. She had a great soul."
Her mother, who lives in Colorado and with whom Bridget spent a lot of time in the past year, said that Bridget always seemed to be able to sense the inner essence of people and was drawn to the kindness she felt in others. "She connected to people based on what she saw on the inside."
Bridget always had a fondness for art of all kinds. She loved movies and music, and attended as many concerts as she could. She also had great talent for both drawing and painting. Not long ago she told me that she’d like to become involved in art therapy. She was always creative with the clothes that she wore, too, ripping them and then sewing them back together with patches and such. Maybe it was this creative streak that caused her to be as outspoken as she was at times, always honest about her feelings, a rare and endearing quality.
Bridget had many friends in the area, and here are some of their thoughts:
"She was the kind of person that you fell in love with the minute you met her."
"Bridget absolutely had a heart of gold."
"She could make even the smallest thing seem wonderful."
"She lit up a room."
"She was a loving, caring and forgiving person."
"She made you feel like you wanted to take care of her."
"Bridget was truly one of God’s special creatures. Unique in a way like no one else I’ve ever known."
When I look at the note that Bridget wrote to a teacher during her sophomore year, I can only think that it encompasses many aspects of her character. In particular, it shows the sincerity, quirkiness, sense of humor and the kindness that I came to know Bridget by.
I, along with so many others, will miss her more than words can express.