Well, tomorrow I turn 40 years old. I’ll be honest and say there have been many days in my past when I truly didn’t believe I would still be alive at this age. I struggled so hard against my depression for the majority my life and 3 years after your death I’m still shocked that you are the one that didn’t make it and I’m still here. I often wonder if things would have been different if you and I had talked about our depression to one another much earlier in life (I didn’t know about yours until 5 months before you died.) Would it have made a difference if all those years we had been sharing our experiences? Would it have made us stronger? Or would it have been like two people who didn’t know how to swim trying to save the other from drowning and not have made any difference at all? I realize I’ll never have the answers I need… and someday I hope I can stop asking myself those haunting questions.
I feel guilty for continuing to have birthdays while you will forever remain at the age of 35. The gap between us will only continue to grow– not just in our ages but in all things, I fear. I worry with each passing day that I’ll forget your face, your voice, your laugh and so many other things. I don’t ever want to forget. I need you to know that I still think of you every hour of every single day. I don’t cry like I used to and I have learned to laugh and have fun again. But because of that, a huge part of me feels as though I’ve betrayed you– please know that you are still in my thoughts wherever I go, whatever I’m doing.
I will always remember you just as you are in this picture above. You had such a glow and a light in your eyes… a light which I could see had so obviously disappeared in recent years. I often find myself staring into your eyes in this picture because there seems to be such a tenderness and kindness in them… and I know that to be true because I had the honor of being your sister for 35 years. About 10 years ago you told me you were thinking of going to nursing school and I was so supportive of that idea– I truly wish you had done that. You were so kind and caring and showed great concern for other people that I know you’d have made an amazing nurse and I think you’d have made a difference in so many lives had you decided to pursue that line of work. I think the world missed out in so many ways by losing you.
I know if you could talk to me from wherever you are now that you’d probably be teasing me about getting “so old” while you will never age; in my head I can still hear your infectious giggle! I wonder what hilarious birthday card you’d pick out for me that undoubtedly would poke fun at me approaching the proverbial “hill” at mid-life. I wish you were here to give me a hard time… you had such a wonderful gleam in your eye when you were up to something or were teasing… I really miss that, too.
So here I am… the very last night of my 30’s. I have your candle lit, I’m on my couch sipping on a glass of wine under the blanket I made for you for your last birthday (the same blanket they found on your lap when you died) and I’m wondering how I managed to make it this far. I have no idea– I’m glad I did, though. But I really, really, REALLY wish you were here to share it with me.
Thinking of you today and always,