It’s been six years today. Six years since everything changed. Six years since a light went out in my life. It’s been six years since I’ve seen you, six years since I’ve hugged you. It’s been six years since we’ve talked to each other.
Six years is a long time. I had thought that by now, I would be closer to “healing.” I thought that by now, but I guess it just doesn’t work this way. Six years later, and I still miss you every day. You still cross my mind in all of the moments in which I least expect it, and all in all of the moments that I most expect it. Sometimes it still doesn’t feel real to me. In these six years, so much has changed, so much has happened. And you haven’t been here for it.
I’ve learned that the hardest part of losing you has been learning to be happy in this life without you. The hardest part has been continuing to grow up, continuing to change, and continuing to make new memories without you by my side.
I’ve learned how terrifying it is to think that I may be forgetting parts of you. It breaks my heart to think that I could forget some of those special moments with you, that I could forget the exact tone of your voice or pitch of your laugh. Feeling as though you are slipping away from me hurts my heart. Feeling as though the memories are fading away pains me greatly.
But I’ve also learned that the most meaningful memories are not specific events. The most meaningful memories are feelings. The most touching memories I have of you have to do with the warmth and comfort I felt when I was with you. The little memories aren’t as important as remembering how it felt to know that you were there for me through the thick and the thin. I will always remember how it felt to care about you and look up to you. I will always remember how you always loved me and always kept me safe no matter what. I will always remember the way that you made me feel.
Some of the other memories stick with me too of course. I still remember singing Glee with you and my best friend in the car that beautiful summer night after we all went to the park. I will always remember the time you insisted on going to the beach with us, even though your foot was broken and you had crutches and a knee high cast. I remember how Dad voluntarily gave you a piggy back ride on the sand. I remember going on long walks with you and having to jog to keep up. I remember your wonderful sense of humor and how you used to say the funniest, quirkiest things, always catching people by surprise. I remember the “I love you” notes you put in my brown bagged lunch every day (even when I was a senior in high school).
Tears still come to my eyes when I hear “I’ll Stand by You.” I still start to cry when I listen to Lady Antebellum’s “Never Alone,” and I will always remember that time that I sang it for you, and how you started to cry. I remember the time, after you were diagnosed, that you told me not to grieve for too long, and instead to be proud to have had you as my mom. I remember you told me that I had to keep living my life, and that one day I would be okay.
But the truth is, I wasn’t ready to lose you, I wasn’t ready to live without you. And even now, years later, I’m still not ready to lose you. And sometimes it feels like I lose you again and again.
Looking back, you taught me almost everything I needed to know. You taught me how to be brave and strong, and how to follow my dreams. You taught me how to be silly and serious, honest and kind. But the one thing you didn’t teach me? You didn’t teach me how to live without you. You never told me how hard it would be, or how lost I would feel with you gone. You never taught me how to live with the loneliness, or how to cope in the moments in which everything felt like too much.
I still wish I could run to you for advice and guidance. I still wish I could call you and tell you good news, and hear the excitement in your voice. I still wish I could go home and giant whole wheat cookies with you, and hear all about your day and all of your funny teaching stories. I still wish I could give you a huge hug and tell you that I love you.
I still wish these things with all of my heart.
And while it still hurts six years later, and while I still miss you every single day, I take comfort in knowing that I was the luckiest girl in the world to have had you here for nineteen years. I was so lucky to love you, and even luckier to be loved by you.
I am going to keep on missing you and loving you from a distance. But just as you told me to do, I’m going to try my hardest to make this life as beautiful as I can for the both of us. Just as you wanted, I’m going to do my best to truly make the most of this life. And at times it’s going to be hard. But I know I can do it because I am armed with your strength, your blessing, and your love.
In the words of E.E. Cummings, “I Carry your heart with me. I carry it in my heart.”