in memory...

To my angel,

Running through sprinklers, building forts, putting your hair in French braids…being a kid was so much fun! Sometimes I would forget we were sisters, we were the greatest playmates. Then came thirteen, you could never understand why my phone was more important than you. Boyfriends took the place of playmates and there wasn’t much room for a little sister.

Looking through the scrapbook now, you hardly notice the gap, the time where I took you for granted, assuming you’d be there waiting when I finally grew out of it. I remember the shift…me leaving for college, you switching high schools and terrified to start over. We were equals again, worried about what the future would hold.

For me it turned out to be an Advertising major and a job in Chicago. For you, an off-and-on boyfriend from our hometown. Hundreds of letters and e-mails later, you had a degree and a fiancĂ© – that funny redhead from high school. Planning the wedding, sending you off to Georgia, who would have thought: an Air Force wife! Visits to the base were always exciting, you were so happy there. A beautiful home, a wonderful husband, and plans to move-in with me in Chicago when his tour was done.

Originally, I set out to write a thank you letter, but this has turned into a trip down memory lane. It seems as though it happens all the time now, recounting the memories. I took for granted that you’d always be there – for my wedding, the babies, the future. I took for granted the family you kept together, and the new one you were just beginning.

When that monster took both of you away from us, I never thought I’d have a reason to be thankful. But as the years slowly pass, I realize how many things I need to thank you for…

Teaching me to live each day to the fullest, and never take anything for granted. We never know what tomorrow will bring, so I make sure that those people closest to me know how much I love them. Since we’re only on this earth for a limited time, it is so important to make each day count.

Giving me the courage to start a new life without you. Moving to Texas and starting graduate school was definitely not in the original plan! But without you in Chicago, it just wasn’t the same future I had always envisioned. I had to make a change, and in it I have created an amazing new life for myself.

Creating a family that has endured this horrible tragedy. Even when you’re gone, you’re still “the glue” that holds us together. Having the opportunity to spend time as a family has allowed us all to heal, and to keep your memory alive.

Showing me the importance of kindness. And that helping others is far more rewarding than a big paycheck! Social work is my calling, but until you died I never explored the option to change careers. I hope that in some small way I can make you proud and continue your legacy of helping others.

Allowing me to become my best self. Through traumatic events in our lives we often focus on the negative, but I found some of my greatest strengths as a result of my grief. We often underestimate our capabilities, and I have you to thank for uncovering some of mine.

When you were murdered, a part of me died with you. But in its place has grown a new strength and reason for living. Growing up, you looked up to me, the one with all the answers. But now I see that the tables have turned, and it’s me who looks up to you.

Your older spinster

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