Hi, sweet sissy.
It's been 6 months since you died. 6 months! I wish we could sit in Mom's living room to stay up late and talk about that. As in, what is it even like, dying? How are things on the other side? Does it feel like 6 months over there? Now that your life on earth is done, did you have any premonitions that your life would be short? Hindsight, they say, right? I can't wait to talk to you again.
Have you been watching us a lot? Or is there lots to do over there? Are you busy and happy and peaceful? Because that's how I imagine you. But I also imagine that there might be a part of you worrying about us, just because you're...well, you, still. Ha.
So...I know there's been lots of really hard things you've had to watch happen with our family lately. It feels like your death was the first of many really heavy dominoes that starting crashing through all these dreams and expectations our family has held with almost cavalier confidence. Can you even believe some of the things that have happened!? And how they ALL had to happen within the same six months?? JEEPERS, right!? Well, maybe you're not as bewildered as I am about the timing. Maybe you've been let in on the secret, a little bit, about some of the ultimate purposes and reasons behind the rapid-fire catastrophes that have left us crawling through the ruins and sifting through the ashes, trying to figure out what's left of Life-As-We-Expected-It...and Who-We-Thought-We-Were...and, most importantly, What-We-Thought-We-Could-Endure. That last one has been the most surprising of them all so far.
We may be crawling, stumbling, sitting there catatonically shocked...or just laying there breathing, afraid to move lest we reopen a tender, slow-healing wound...but I want you to know, sister friend, that we still are holding on, so tightly, to each other. Sometimes it hurts because we feel your absence sharply when we're huddling so close. But in those moments where it feels like it would just be easier to run away, and push away, and avoid...there is this exquisite truth that we are learning to embrace, a little at a time: that we cannot experience great joy without first experiencing great pain: how would we recognize it, appreciate it, otherwise? I can confidently say that I'm pretty sure we're good now, on the pain front, that we've had quite enough and are ready to just focus on the joy part, ONLY. I wish it was actually up to me.
My relationship with God has been unusually complicated these past 6 months. I haven't known what to make of it, so I've just tried to let it be, whatever that means. However, deep down in the rare, invincible parts of my heart I know Heavenly Father has a plan for you, for me, for our family. When I am being honest, and very untheatrical, I realize that I trust Him; He has this remarkable, unknowable way of weaving threads of joy and peace through times like these. I keep trying to remember to look for those sparkling flecks of hope. Sometimes I find them, sometimes I'm too dark to see anything except fog. But through it all, I ultimately feel His patience with me; I don't feel He is displeased with my finite mortal perspective, even when I'm having a temper tantrum about things not going the way I think they should; I just feel His perfect understanding and acceptance of my current state...and my potential. When I was learning to drive a car, my instructor was going through strategies to remember in crisis situations: "when you're hyrdroplaning, just take your foot off the gas...when you've lost control on the ice, just look where you want to go and your car will follow." That's the only message I've felt coming through this last little while of losing traction, spinning and sliding: wherever you are at...it's okay, you are loved. Just look where you want to go, the rest will follow.
If there's any one resounding lesson that I've learned so far, even if it's just from your example alone, Jake, it's to be gentle with people...to just love them. You were so good at that down here. Now, with every face I look into, I can't help but wonder if their sister died, too. I wonder if they are feeling crumbly today. I wonder what hard things they have endured, are enduring, and whether they are finding the tiny flecks of hope. It makes me want to be a bright spot for someone, anyone, everyone. Because everyone battling their way through something that is their own brand of difficult...and trying to figure it out loudly, silently, or a little of both. This new depth of sheer feeling for everyone I see often has me feeling raw and straight-up staggered...but hopeful. At least there's that.
I miss you...so, so much. I want to shrug my shoulders with you about parenting, and pool our memories to try and figure out how mom and dad did it so successfully. I want to complain a little (with love, of course) about our sweetly stubborn husbands. I want to roll my eyes at your effusive, over-the-top praise and affection, and snort at your unbelievable ability to pull a pun right out of thin air. I want to have that singing group us sisters were going to have, and watch you have a near panic-attack about children running around near water without life-jackets on ("You're so safety-conscious..."). There are so many people who will never see how alike we occasionally look.
I'm not sure why we are all simply shards and pieces right now, but I've got to believe that it's because there's something new to be built here, out of all of this. We will be okay. Stay close, sis. We need all the help we can get.
Love you more than chocolate,
Your Favourite Oldest Sister.