When we were younger we shared everything. I knew you from your birth to the day you passed onto the other side. For most of our life together we spent the same nights in the same house, and we even had the same friends. We ate at the same dinner table, we went to the same schools, and we shared the same struggles. As we grew we shared the same clothes, and the same taste in music. Through our very existence we were as close as two people could be. Because of this, for years almost every dream I had included you! We shared the same home inside of our mother’s warm uterus, just at different times. This to me is where I first learned about you, my sister. You were my first lesson about life, its meanings, and its endings.
Before the world lost you, I had no idea the capacity my heart had to love or to suffer. You are one of my greatest teachers in death and in life. For that I can never begin to repay you. And it is only when I closely examine the depths of what little understanding I possess, that I can truly begin to see the impact you made on my life.
It’s not enough to say that you shaped me as I grew up, teaching me about loyalty and cooperation. As most siblings do. You fundamentally changed my thoughts and perspectives as I grew into a woman, and you protected me at my most vulnerable stages with the depths of your love and consideration. Truly, I would not be alive if it wasn’t for you.
When I saw you looking for me at the bottom of the rocky pit I stumbled into, I needed to climb up to be with you. Even seeing your picture or hearing your voice made me consider what my actions would mean for you, and ultimately for us. At times I feel that maybe during my adolescence I was unfair to you, or an unnecessary burden. But I grew up and subsequently we grew together, blossoming into independent yet interconnected beings that loved each other wholly and without exception. Unconditional love is a term I grew to know by the definition of our relationship with one another.
And still I can’t say that I was wise in the same way you were, but you gave me a sense of wholeness and security in myself and life that also came from within me through the ability to give back to you. I enjoyed our long conversations where we seemed to know inexplicably what the other was feeling. I believe we shared an experience language is incapable of defining. We were so vastly different yet so connected.
We would laugh hysterically and talk for hours about our deepest opinions, aspirations, fears, and joys. I would read you my diary and I trusted you with every fiber of my being. When I spoke to you in troubled times, all of my worries seemed to melt away, or at least become manageable. We referred to each other as twin souls, soul mates, and maybe that’s what sisterhood is in its purest form.
We may not be together but even now you’re teaching me what it means to take on the role you had in my life through the words of a time we were once together. “Talk to yourself as if you were a baby. Love yourself.” This was your wisdom from a young age of 13 years old when I came to you with self-loathing behaviors. “You are beautiful. You are inspirational. You are capable. You are strong.” Even if your shoes are not filled, I know you would want me to fill them myself. Like you did all of those years you had to take care of people much older than yourself who selfishly chose their own emotions over your innocence.
The words you said over the years echo in my mind. They give life to the example you gave with your spirit. You are so strong, so beautiful, and you are still capable of inspiring and creating love with all of the light you left with those who love you so.
Your strength holds me up and says, “Smile in the face of adversity”. Even through pain and suffering you still had the courage to make us smile, to make us laugh, to lend a hand, and exhibit deep gratitude. You showed the world that even through the worst suffering you can choose to be LOVE. Everything that you stand for is what I strive to become, and I have confidence in knowing that even if I fall short- love doesn’t come from a place of conditions. You always loved me for my flaws. I’ll never forget the words we used to tell each other “Your imperfections make you perfect.”
You taught me that you don’t have to lose yourself in the process of being patient and kind. You taught me that sometimes boundaries are important to maintaining your own sense of stability; even with the people you love the most. The key is to always act from a place of love for yourself and for others. It is an important lesson, but a very difficult one indeed.
I’m grateful that even though you are no longer here physically, your love resonates so powerfully that it stops time in its tracks to say: Hello, I’m still here! I never left! Time is only a perception and I feel you with me now. Your love teaches me that the capabilities for connection, understanding, compromise, peace, friendship, and depth are endless. Seeing this makes it possible for change to occur in every single one of the lives around us- which in turn affects the world at large. If that’s not living I don’t know what is.
If you can make an effectual change on our hearts years later, touching my children through the spiritual growth that continues to take place when I honor your life and struggles--that is as real as any other human exchange. When I let go of my fears just a little bit more and think about what you showed me, I grow. When I grow our relations benefit, and your memory becomes my breath. Yes you are alive. More alive than some.
A part of me is missing, but I know you would want for me to be whole. A part of me has grown in other corners of my spirit and I wish that our two lives and experiences could still intertwine. I still dream of a world where you would be able to show my girls what an amazing person you are. I just know you would be such a great role model and auntie to them. Our family will always be missing a place at the table, and we will never stop wishing for it to be different.
True love can cause such a pain we all feel, but I want to smile in memory of your amazing gift of love. I want to smile in memory of your beautiful heart. I want to smile knowing that the world isn’t as cold as it sometimes seems now that you’re gone, because you truly have shown me that we are all capable of so much more. We are all capable of smiling and loving, living and laughing. You gave us a smile as a gift and we will keep it with us always. Today I may be empowered, and tomorrow all I may want to do is cry. But so long as I live my love for you will never die!