Dear Anna (Letter 5)

Dear Anna, 

It’s been 6 weeks since you left us and I still can't believe it. I know you’re not coming back, but I will never stop wishing. I will never stop hoping that one day I’ll wake up and realize this was all a dream. In the last 6 weeks, I have learned a lot and felt a lot of things that I have never felt before. I have mostly learned a lot about grief. The thing I learned is that you don’t know when to expect the grief that is inevitable when you lose someone you love so much.  Even though you feel it on some level all the time, you don’t feel it fully all the time. You feel it fully when you least expect it. I always miss you, but I never know what will make me miss you even more.

So far these are some of the things that have snuck up on me, making me wish so badly you weren’t gone.

When I’m on the airplane and it gets bumpy, I miss you grabbing onto my arm and looking at me with your big, beautiful blue eyes in fear. I always told you it was fine and I didn’t know why you were freaking out, but secretly I loved it. You were so independent and strong; it wasn’t often that you had to lean on me. In those few rare moments that you grabbed onto me out of fear, I got to feel like the protective older sister, like I could save you from your fear and that feels pretty awesome.

It was the same thing when it would storm outside. You would often crawl into my bed in the middle of the night because it was storming really badly outside and you were scared. Once again, I got to comfort you and be there for you. I would never admit it, but those loud thunders often made my heart race really fast too and so not only was I comforting you when you crawled in bed with me, but you comforted me too. It makes me feel pretty amazing that your safe haven was in bed with me, Anna. That speaks a lot about our relationship.

Last week, as I was packing to go to our annual beach trip, I missed you so much. Who would’ve thought an uneventful act such as packing would make me miss you so much? But you were my packing buddy! When we went on vacation together, Mommy would make us our packing list and we would hang it up in the hall between our rooms and we would pack together. Remember how sometimes I would just make piles of my stuff and you would organize it and put it all in my suitcase for me? I no longer have my packing buddy, and packing without you was so lonely.

When Mommy, Daddy and I were in Illinois and at the beach last week I spent a lot of time with our cousins. I loved spending time with them and having fun days out but I couldn’t stop thinking about how you should be there with us. I thought about all the funny jokes you would be telling and how we would all be laughing at you. When we played cards at the beach, I thought of all the times you begged to play cash. “I hate that game,” I would tell you. And I do. But only because you always win! I would gladly play cash with you all day everyday if you would come back…

Today I left to go to Missouri for the weekend to spend some time with my friends. As I left, I thought of all the times I’ve done this before; traveled from Dallas to Missouri. I thought of all the times that I was leaving to go back to school after being home and how I would come in your room and whisper good bye to you. “I’ll miss you,” I would say and I would always cry. It broke my heart to leave you every time. Even after 3 years of college, it never got easier to leave you. “I love you, Iss,” you would tell me and we would hug. “Call me soon,” you’d say. I promised I would, but how often did I actually call? I would just send you a text and let you know I landed and that I miss you, but then we’d go weeks or even months without talking. That’s my biggest regret, Anna. Sometimes when I left you’d even give me advice about whatever we’d talked about while I was home. Boys, or my friends or whatever it was, you’d tell me what to do and I loved your advice. I wish so badly you were here to talk to me about this trip; there are so many things I want to tell you and want to hear your advice on.

I started reading “Heaven is For Real” today. I need to know that heaven really is for real. I need to know that is where you are and that you are doing great. I know you are because you’re not in pain anymore and that is the one thing I keep reminding myself when I miss you. I think of how sick you were and how it broke my heart to see you like that and how happy you must be to finally be free of pain and healthy again.

Yesterday, I was trying to delete some videos off my phone because I’m running out of room and I came across this video of you and Katherine in the kitchen being your usual silly selves. You guys were playing music and dancing and laughing at each other and I remember watching you and just laughing and laughing. I sent the video to Katherine a few weeks ago and she said it made her miss you a lot. I understand now that I watched it. You had the biggest smile on your face. You looked so happy.  And I heard your voice. And my heart stopped a little. I haven’t heard your voice in so long, and I miss it. I miss talking to you.

I miss everything about you, Anna and even though I am being strong it still hurts to know you’re gone forever. Never again will I have the kind of relationship that I had with you. There is nothing like the bond of sisters; nothing like growing up together and having literally a lifetime of memories. I told you things I didn’t tell anyone else. You were the first person I wanted to talk to when something exciting in my life happened. What do I now without you? I will always miss you, Anna, and sometimes when I least expect it. But no matter what, I am better because of you. I will continue to make you proud of me and I will continue to float on without you… even if it is hard.

I love the raw emotion here. I miss that laugh so much....

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