An Open Letter to My Little Sister

Hey dear one,

I've been mentally writing this letter for a while and thought about saving it for June, saving it for your 18th birthday--saving all of my sisterly advice that I would have passed down as you would have taken your first steps into adulthood, the advice I'll tell Maylen next year. I felt like I needed to justify this post, have a reason for sharing it with the world. 

But today was rough. It was hard for me. And when it got hard, the first person I told was Maylen. The last people I told about it tonight were Mom and Dad. The person I couldn't tell was you.

Today was a little thing. A thing that I'll wake up tomorrow and forget about. But it's the little things when I wish you were here most.

And that's the hardest part.

It's not the big events when I miss you the most. It's when there's a lull in the conversation, a disagreement when two of us don't see eye-to-eye, it's when there's an argument over the dishes or whose turn it is to feed the dogs or who needs to take out the trash.

It's when there's a scene in a movie talking about what it's like to outlive your child. What it's like to have a sibling die. Because there's a bond, a kind of never-ending grief, that nobody else understands because you can't get it until you're in it.

It's when there's a mother, a father, and their three little girls walking through the grocery store.

I miss you every day, little sister.

Sometimes it's so present, so heavy, that I expect to look down and see an actual hole in my heart. Sometimes the moment passes and I'm still whole, but you're never here.

Life without you was never part of our plan. Our reality was never part of the plan.

But there is still so much to be grateful for, so much to be learned from you.

You taught us what to do when our plans fall so far short of what we end up with. What to do when one day changes everything. When the hits keep coming again and again.

You've taught us so much about the depth of pain. We were thrown right down into the very bottom and had to figure out how to get back up, how to find our feet when we couldn't tell which way was up.

You taught us how to keep moving. 

You taught us how to fall apart and how to come back together.

You taught me what it means to be a fighter, what it means to be strong in the face of the impossible.

You taught all of us how to let go.

At the end of the day, as much as I miss you, I'm grateful that we had you as long as we could. And I am eternally, endlessly, forever thankful that you protected Mom like you did. Thank you for saving her life.

There's a quote from a book where the main character writes about her sister's death that's always made me think of you.

It seemed to me that she'd been expelled into this world not quite formed. She was not ready for its weight.

MA, I think she had that one all wrong. There's not a doubt in my mind that the world wasn't ready for you.