I guess it’s this time of year, I start thinking about her. I start remembering everything. I start missing her worse…not that I ever really stop. It’s been 6 years now. I’m older than she is. It was hard to have that birthday. Now I’m used to it.
There have been a lot of hard mile markers along the way. Time doesn’t seem to make those any easier. Every wedding she isn’t there, every new baby born, every big family event; they don’t improve as the years pass. But hopefully I do. Hopefully we all do. Hopefully we get better at remembering the good and forgetting the bad. Hopefully we can find the joy in these events and accept the sadness her absence leaves.
But how do we get there?
We take a long hard road. If you’re here, you may know what I’m talking about. You might just be taking your first barefooted steps down a jagged, rocky path. That pain might still be so sharp and so severe that you don’t know if you can handle it.
Because one day, after years of walking that road, while the rocks don’t get any smoother, you get stronger. Your feet won’t bleed with every step anymore. They will become resistant and strong. You will be able to withstand your journey. You’ll eventually shed the baggage of guilt that you carry. You’ll eventually let go of the ties keeping you in the past. For some of you, for me, you’ll find something to help carry you along. I found Love. I found Peace. I found Forgiveness. I found God. Maybe one day you’ll even be strong enough to help carry another just starting down this path.
The hardest part for me wasn’t that she was gone. It was knowing how sad she was in order to do what she did. My heart broke that she hurt so bad and no one even knew. She didn’t let us. She took it on alone. I kept thinking that I should have seen it, I should have known – someone should have! But I wasn’t born a mindreader. None of us were. Knowing that any one of us would have been eager to help if she had opened up to us was enough for me to let it go.
I didn’t go to her funeral. My own sister. I wasn’t there. I didn’t get a goodbye.
I realize now that I don’t need one.
It’s hard but not impossible. And it won’t last forever. I know what comes next. I know there is More. If you don’t, if you are just starting down this terrible stony path without Anyone or Anything to guide you, learn. Learn what you can about where we go. Discover your own truths. Believing in God or in an afterlife or in anything, isn’t a sign of weakness. It is having enough humility to believe we are not all there is. It means recognizing our tiny place in this vast universe and respecting that. Only the strong chose humility when faced with tragedy.
Leave your guilt with your suffocating grief. Forgive. Take another step. Perhaps we’ll meet along the way.