Sunday, December 23, 2012
Letter to Alicia
My heart hurts. I mean physically hurts, like someone punched me square in the middle of it so hard that I'm sure there is a hole there. I can't tell you how many times in the past 5 days I've picked up the phone to send you a text message. Then I realize I can't and the pain washes over me in engulfing waves that makes it hard to breathe. After the cancer I had promised myself to never let things go unsaid. I take some comfort in knowing that we didn't. The last few years have been rough and we didn't get to see you as often as I would have liked but at least we talked often, whether it was on the phone, via text or on facebook. I'm glad you knew you were loved. I don't know why it was your time to leave us but what I do know is that we will go on. Each of us will do it in our own way, missing you while surrounding your children with love and sweet memories of their mother. You have entrusted us to care for these three precious souls, leaving pieces of yourself behind in them. We won't let you down.
I loved that as a little girl we would ride in the truck, singing at the top of our lungs to Knock Three Times by Tony Orlando and Dawn. You were about the only one who would listen to me sing in my awful, got-kicked-out-of-the-church-choir voice and not tell me just how terrible it truly was. You didn't care how bad it sounded, you just let it flow. I couldn't help but appreciate such acceptance. Don't get me wrong, you know it wasn't always easy in the beginning but I accepted that you and your dad were a package deal. And we did manage to become a family. I knew we had made it when you didn't hesitate to ask me those hard questions in public, so everyone could hear my answer. Questions like, If my mama's black and my daddy's white, does that make me an Oreo? I wanted to throttle you on the spot there in the grocery store.
I loved your fearlessness. Like when you were four or five and joined the band Gator Alley on stage at the concert in Hessel Park to sing Country Club. The lead singer asked if anyone wanted to come up and sing and like a shot you were up on that stage. You knew all the words, too. Even made the local paper. You were always such a ham; you could always make me laugh even when you weren't trying. Like when you were six and Aunt Bert and I took you and your 6 month old sister (Hannah) to Nick's Park in Monticello; you decided to go down the slide even after I warned you it was hot. I'm sure you shocked some of the parents when you yelled, "Aunt Bert, hot butt" clear across the park. I think I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants. Someday I will share those memories with your children so they will always know you the way I knew you.
You were so excited about being a big sister. You and Hannah butted heads so much because you both thought you were in charge. It was nice to watch your sisterly relationship develop over time. I think Hannah said it best with the poem she wrote for your memorial service:
I didn't always know
my sister meant the world to me.
It took us growing older
for both of us to see.
The times we spent together
were precious to us all.
We weren't with each other much
but we would always call.
When she became a mother
I loved her family.
Now quickly she is gone from us
I only have the memory.
Of how much I loved my sister
And what she meant to me.
I hoped you liked that so many of your dad's relatives ended up at Aunt Anne's house after your memorial service just to be together. We know you were skipping the CD during the memorial service at the church because we played it the night before and it was just fine. Way to make your presence known. I said to Hannah, just as Bobby was saying to his mom, "That's Alicia!" I laughed through the tears when it happened. At Aunt Anne's as we watched the DVD with pictures of you, the kids and the families (both yours and Bobby's), I could feel you smiling. We cried, we laughed, we reminisced and just enjoyed being together. No drama, no fighting, just being. And then last night after we returned home from Missouri, I dreamed of angels and tinkerbells. I was in a beautiful, lush, green meadow running through the sunshine while they circled my head. I felt no fear and no pain, only a calm peacefulness. I think that was your way of comforting me and reminding me of our connection. I will forever think of Alicia's meadow and try to always carry that feeling with me.
I'm not really sure how one goes on after such a devastating loss but I'll do the best I can. I draw strength from Hannah as well as give strength to Hannah. I try to help your dad connect the dots as he works to process this. And when I want to yell at him to stop being so damn annoying, I will remember the patience and understanding you always displayed with him. But I am counting on you to send me a sign whenever I need it. I love you and will forever miss you.