To Ali, our Angel,
In this blur of a year I have learned so much. I learned that “God’s will be done,” is no joke. Just as mom says, “He will find a way”. I’ve accepted that all the “what ifs” don’t matter. I learned that in order for this crazy pink community to come together He had to take you. People needed to learn about your story in order to gain perspective in their lives. Your short life started the ball rolling for so many other lives in ministry, service, and forgiveness. Look how many kids/adults we have made smile through book and tutu donations. I still regularly receive messages from strangers saying how much you have changed their lives. Even ones who are facing the cancer battle, but you have helped prepare and give them courage to fight. Most days I think, “well, life must go on.” But truly, it’s going on much differently since.
Your baby girl is not so much a baby anymore. She’s TWO! And just like the rest of the girls in our family, she’s strong willed and feisty! She’s finally starting to look a lot more like you as she gets taller and thinner. Her eyes look just like yours when you were little. I hope as she grows, your looks will become more apparent in her. She’s talking like crazy. She tells us what to do and isn’t afraid to tell us NO. EVER. She has your gentle nature and of course, obsessed with babies. She and Nori like to love on them a liiiiittle too much. She can’t leave Nico alone, she has to be in his face or squeezing him. In a 30 minute time frame when the girls are together, they will kiss and hug no less than 10 times, pull each other’s hair, shove to the ground and then sit and play with their babies like they are real. They act more like sisters than cousins. When you ask either of them who is your bestfriend, they will respond with the other’s name. Hilarious. We all try and talk about you as often as possible to Olivia. When I was at your house last, she picked up the pic of you and her off her on your nightstand and hugged it while shouting “MY MOMMY!!” Just last night I was flipping through your FB images for her and she loved it. She has all sorts of videos she can watch of you but I’m also so glad you recorded that audio book for her. When mom found that, we were beyond thrilled because no one knew you did it. It’s apparently evident how hard it was for you to record and I just can’t bring myself to listen to it. I’m still healing.
When we hear of someone else going through something awful, we can’t imagine ourselves to be in their shoes. We shudder to process the thought of experiencing the loss or pain. Is it strange that I still can’t imagine what it’d be like to stand next to your bedside, waiting for your final breath? Yet somehow, I have already experienced it? How? How did I get through that? When I think of how I frantically raced to my neighbors, barely dressed, hugely pregnant, knocking and leaving Nori with no explanation in her arms. Speeding to the hospital barely able to focus through the tears. Throwing up immediately upon seeing you in the state you were in. Praying you “through.” Kissing you goodbye? That was ME? How did I do all that? Through our faith, is the only obvious answer. I know it had to be me. I had the nightmares for the first 6 months to prove it. I’d wake in a heart racing panic, dreaming about your bald head. Your pink pajamas. Long, gasping breaths. The machines beeping. Your eyes that wouldn’t open no matter how desperately we wanted them too. And then they did, and I wish they wouldn’t have. I imagined your fear of letting go, penetrated deep in my soul and I will never forget it. It was burned in my brain for so long I thought I would never remember what you looked like before those final hours. It took a long time to be at peace with the fact you indeed are finally out of pain. I know those memories are worthless. It’s my emotional pain, you feel none of it anymore. In fact, even on that day, it likely hurt us more than it even hurt you. But I still occasionally wake up shaking in the middle of the night feeling your cold skin in my hand. Seeing you after. HOWEVER, more often I see you in my dreams happy. I see the Ali i knew for 27 years before you were sick. Sometimes that torture is even worse because it’s not my reality either. I try and close my eyes and drift back into sleep to see you again and it’s always nearly impossible. Some nights I try and focus on you just before I fall asleep hoping you will visit me in my dreams. I wonder if it’s really you visiting my subconscious. I wonder if the dreams I have where you tell me “souls are destined to be together” will really come true. Even in the last day or two I have had a rush of jittery anxiety and fear. The exact feelings I had when you went into the ICU the day before. I thought I could avoid it, but it’s happening against my power to stop it. People texting/sending things/emails are all very sweet and thoughtful. I am very happy to have those people, but it also serves as a reminder opening a scabbed over wound. I’m back to where I was one year ago. Raw.
You know, almost as soon as everything happened I had this careless feeling wash over me. It still comes and goes but mostly I feel invincible. It’s a funny feeling and maybe those who have lost a loved one can better explain it than me. Some times I have so little worries because I know you are protecting me. It’s like I’m so confident you are with me, I imagine you wrapping us in this large protective bubble. Maybe I sound so silly for being naive, but I assure myself all the time that you got my back. Mom says the same thing.
(Literally, just moments ago, you made yourself known. I was sitting here reading over this letter to publish and I looked down to see no diamond in my engagement ring. WTFFFF. Rewind to this morning when I happened to look at it and remember I forgot to clean and tighten on my anniversary like I always do. So to see those prongs EMPTY, I immediately panicked and started to well up. With a “HOLY F*CK, Ali, PLEASE HELP ME FIND MY DIAMOND PLEEEASE.” I got on my hands and knees and crawled from living room to bathroom to bedroom. Within seconds of pleading to you, I found it hardly glistening (Eww soap scum) between the wall and Lilo’s water bowl. Seriously? And I find myself questioning if you are with me. In less that one minute. ONE MINUTE. That diamond could have been anywhere. I’ve been up for hours already, inside/outside/shower, ANYWHERE. And there it was. Thank you, sister. And of course, ::fist punch:: my bro JC.)
Since I can’t understand the “afterlife” and when you are and aren’t with me, it took me a long time to get over the thought you *could* always be in the room with me. I mean, I want you close to me, BUT I also felt like every thought, every action, I am being judged. When I drag Nori to the corner I see you shaking your head, “just have more patience with her.” When I let Nico cry so I could just lay in bed a little bit longer after minimal sleep, “Go get him! You don’t know what I’d give to hold Olivia in the night when she cries!” When I’d think something hateful about someone, “That’s not very nice, you are a better person than that.” When Adam and I…ya…that took some real getting used to. I can only assume you can be anywhere and see everything you want. I guess the feeling of being judged is silly, but it does in the end make me strive to be a better person. I don’t want you to be disappointed in me more now than ever.
Though the dirt is all settled, monument supposedly there, I’ve yet to go back to your place of rest. Forgive me? I’m sure I would be fine, but it just seems like it would be too much torture and really, what’s the point? Some people find peace at cemeteries, I however can’t separate myself from your earthly body being below me. I can talk to you anywhere and I know for certain I will feel no more peace standing above you than I would sitting in my living room. Maybe that’s an excuse? I don’t know, but I know I have zero desire to go back.
So this is it. Our first year is in the books. We’ve made it. I can only speak for myself, but I know I am healing. Slowly. It’s very strange to think a full year has passed since I last heard your voice. Heard your laugh. Waited an extraordinary length to receive a reply to my text. Though some days it’s been terribly hard for me to find the time or desire to keep up with this blog, I’m so glad I have. Lots of memories I have preserved for myself and for Olivia. A place for your friends to write about you as well. Memories will fade and slip from my mind as years pass and I don’t want to forgot all the funny shit you did. We will continue to carry on your legacy and our hopes are that one day everyone knows who you are. I hope you are proud of what we’ve done here.
Happy first Angelversary, seester. For now I must say, when the time is right, I will see you again. Not too soon though, I have so much more learning to do and things to look forward to here! But I have to tell you, my thirst for Paradise has never been stronger.
I’m getting closer to forgetting you in your frail, sick state…
…and only thinking of you as the bubbly blonde you always were.THIS is Ali.
These are my sisters.