One Week

One week ago today, my sister went to be with God in heaven. One week. Normally such a small, insignificant amount of time but in this case it feels like forever.

This past week has been filled with emotions I hoped to never have to experience; anger, regret, sadness, disbelief and so much more. This past week has been filled with events I hoped to never have to attend; a memorial at mine and Anna's alma mater, her visitation and funeral. This past week has been one of the worst of my life, and yet I know I have only just begun the grief process.

Monday night at her visitation, several people got up and spoke about her life. One of which being my Uncle Dan. He started out his speech with "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?" and went on to explain that this is how he felt in regards to Anna's death. In a word, angry. To say he is alone in these feelings would be ridiculous, however, I am not one who shares these feelings. I completely understand why other people would feel angry and perhaps as I continue this grieving process, I will be later on. But for now? How could I be angry? And whom should I be angry with? God? What good does that do me? What good does being angry at all do me?

Am I upset that we lost Anna? More than I can say. Do I miss her? Every minute of every day. But am I angry? No.

I have known for awhile that Anna's life was coming to an end. Especially in the last week or so of her life; things were declining fast, and I knew it wouldn't be much longer. So, instead of praying for God to heal her (although I still desperately hoped he would) I prayed for understanding. If God was going to take her from us, there had to be a reason. A damn good one, I'm sure. So, I prayed for him to grant me the understanding of what exactly that plan was. To show me why he needed her more than we do here on Earth. And I believe that after her death, he truly opened my eyes and showed me what he needed her for.

Her purpose here on Earth was to touch peoples lives and to inspire people to be better. I have seen first hand in the past week how many lives she touched and inspired. People she's never met and who have never met her are inspired by her. They just hear her story and are inspired. First, it was the memorial at our high school. People got up and spoke about their memories with Anna and how they were better for knowing her. Even people who didn't know her spoke about how they wish they would've gotten the chance and they felt so disadvantaged for not knowing her. And even though they didn't know her, they too were inspired by her. The outpouring of people that showed up for the memorial and the funeral Monday and Tuesday made it clear how many lives she touched. People from all over loved her.

Did she have to die for that? Couldn't she have continued to touch lives from here on Earth? I don't know. I have no doubt that she would continue to touch lives, but all of us here on Earth are better off for knowing her. Now it's time for her to touch some people up and heaven and live out whatever other big plans God has for her because I'm sure he has some.

So although my heart is broken and I wish she didn't have to die, I am not angry. I'm sad. I miss her. I wish she could come back, but be healthy. In some ways, it feels like just yesterday I saw her beautiful face, that we were laughing together and gossiping about boys. In other ways one day without her feels like forever, so a week feels like a lifetime. I will miss her forever. I have a lot more grieving to do, I am sure but I have no doubt that Anna has given her strength to me and that is what's helping me get through this.

This video was made in honor of Anna, by her great friend. It was played at the memorial and it is a great representation of what a wonderful life she lived. She will be missed by all, but will continue to touch lives, no doubt about it.

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Dear Anna

Dear Anna,

Today* we celebrated your life during a beautiful memorial service. All your friends and family and people you didn't even know gathered together to honor you.

Today was a day I've been dreading since you went to heaven; I know I already said goodbye to you, but this would be so final, so real. I was scared about whether or not I could handle it. I thought about how strong you always were, and how strong you would want me to be, and I hoped I could do it for you.

Today, I know you were with me, Anna, because you gave me your strength. Although it was a tough, emotional day, I was able to hold it together and be strong. I've been thinking a lot about what I learned from you, and what traits you "passed on" to me. You were always more concerned with others than yourself; that was said over and over today and it is so true. You never told your friends you were dying because you didn't want them to be sad. You didn't want me, and Mommy and Daddy to be sad either. You would do whatever you could to make everyone else happy. I think you passed that trait on to me, because this past week  I have been thinking a lot about everyone elses feelings. When your friends are around and they are sad, I just want to take that pain away from them. I don't even think about my own pain because I am concerned with how they are doing. I am sure that is you transferring that responsibility onto me and I am so glad. You would be so proud to see how much your friends and I have bonded. We are really getting through this together, and even though no one could or ever will replace me, they are like my sisters now.

Today, everyone celebrated you. It was just the way you would want it. It wasn't too sad, or cheesy. Everyone wore purple or bright colors instead of black; you said black was too sad and depressing. You never wanted anyone to be depressed. Everyone talked about what a special person you are and how you impacted so many lives. You should be so proud of yourself. I'm sure you are a big deal up in heaven because prayers have been flooding for you the past year and a half. You are always on my mind, Anna, but today, sitting in Prince of Peace during mass brought so many memories back. Remember how we used to be so bored in church we'd play that chopsticks game you made up? Or when we would laugh at Mommy for crying at the sad songs? Remember when we would bring the church booklets home and "play" church? Sometimes we'd even baptize our baby dolls! Those are special memories that I will never forget, Anna.

Today, you would be so proud of some of your best friends. Katherine, Maggie, Lexi, Tara and Allie all got up and spoke about you and how much you meant to them. I know you gave them the strength to do that, because that is not easy. You would be so touched by all the nice things they said about you. There is no doubt that you changed their lives forever.

Today, your favorite band Manchester Orchestra was here to help us celebrate your life. I have no doubt that you played a huge role in making this happen. When I talked to the Tour Manager tonight, he pointed out how the timing of everything worked out perfectly; they happened to be in town the night of your high school graduation so you could go up on stage and get serenaded by Andy, and how they happened to have just ended their tour so they could be here tonight. Those kind of things don't just happen, Anna. They came to the service at church and got to hear how many lives you touched and hear how touched you were by meeting them. Clearly, the feeling was mutual; they adore you, Anna. They talk so highly of you and how it was such a great honor to meet you. They even came to Aunt Cathy and Uncle Dan's to put on a private show for your friends and family. It was pretty amazing, but you already know how awesome they are!

I can't believe it's been almost a week since you've been gone. I know tomorrow is gonna be another tough day, but I have no doubt you will be there passing on your strength that you are so infamous for to me. I don't know why you chose me to give your strength to; maybe it's because you knew I would need it the most because you're my only sister. Maybe it's so I could carry out your legacy and help others be strong. You taught us all how to be strong, Anna, and I am sure glad you did. It is so hard to be without you, and I'd do anything to get you back but I know you're in a better place now. I can't wait to meet again someday. Until then, we'll all float on!

Love you more than you know.


P.s. I know you already got your own private serenade of this song, but Andy sang it to us tonight and it was pretty spectacular, so I thought you should see.

*This post was originally scheduled for last night, so change today to yesterday, etc. 

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