Dear Anna (Letter 6)

Dear Anna,

As of yesterday, you've been in heaven 7 weeks. I don't even know how that's possible. Each Wednesday means it is a week longer that you've been gone and I wonder if I will ever stop saying "how is it possible that you've been gone so long?". I wonder if it will ever feel "real" that you're not here anymore. In the grand scheme of things 7 weeks seems so small, almost insignificant; however, right now it feels like forever.

Yesterday, I tried to remember the last conversation we had. What did I say? What did you say? It took me awhile, but finally I remembered. It was Tuesday, the day before you died. Some JP2 girls had just dropped off cards and graduation presents for you, so I came back to tell you that they had dropped that stuff off. I read you the cards they wrote; and it took everything in me not to start crying when they talked about how strong you were, and how inspiring you were. I didn't want to cry in front of you; I wanted to be strong for you. I remember after I read all the cards, you said to me "Thanks, Iss". So simple, yet it meant so much. I had no idea that would be the last time we would talk...

I've said before that I hope you're proud of me. For being strong without you, mostly. I know I adapted that strength from you so I know you're proud of me for carrying it on.

But now I know you have another reason to be proud of me. For whatever reason after you passed away I felt a strong urge to get to know you better. Maybe its because of my pinging guilt that I feel like I didn't do this when you were still here, maybe you placed that urge in my heart; whatever it is it's something I've felt passionate about lately. So the first logical thing to do was to use music to feel a connection to you. Music was your passion, but sadly was a passion we didn't share. I never attempted to get to know you through the music you loved. I never asked you to explain why these bands and these songs meant so much to you. Usually I was just begging you to turn that "crap" off and play something "good." Well, Anna, I know you are proud because you have converted me. At least somewhat. I'm not all the way there yet; I'm no band aid like you were. But Zach made me a CD of your favorite songs and I cant remember the last time, when given the choice I chose "my music" over yours. I put the play list on my iPod and I listen to it everywhere; at work, in the car (which I know you would tell me your car is very happy it's playing "good" music again. You always told me your car hated it when I played country.) and even on the airplane I listen to your music. The playlist of course includes bands I knew were your favorite like Manchester Orchestra and Modest Mouse, but also bands I've never heard of. Every time I press play, I can't help but think of you and how proud you are!

Part of me wishes I would have done this a long time ago; how hard would it have been to get you to make me a playlist? How hard would it have been to listen to your favorite songs just once? I think way back to riding in your car with you; I remember arguing over who's music we'd listen to you and you'd usually win with the simple argument "it's my car." I have vague memories of you sharing songs you loved with me but what they were I have no clue. I wonder if any of them ended up on this playlist.

It is not hard to figure out why this music was so important to you. A lot of them are like they were written specifically for you. Some of them are obvious, but some I find myself wondering what it is you liked so much about these songs. And I wish so badly that you were here to explain it to me. This will never stop happening; I will never stop wishing that instead of asking your friends "Why did Anna like this so much?" that I could ask you. 

I finished "Heaven is For Real" the other day and for the first time since you passed away I feel 100% certain that that is where you are. That book gave me such a new, amazing understanding of heaven and what your life must be like now. I can only imagine how amazing it must be. For the first time I know for certain that heaven is real and that you aren't suffering anymore. It brings me great comfort to know that you read some of that book. I hope that it brought you a lot of comfort about your impending death. And for the first time I know for sure I'll see you again someday. I just wish there was another, sooner way to see you. 

I miss you more and more all the time, Anna. I still can't believe you're gone. I still can't believe you're never coming back. But, you live on. You live on through all the people that remember you. All the people that you inspired. All the lives that you changed. Through me. To quote Modest Mouse (I know you would be so proud of me for quoting Modest Mouse!) "Your body may be gone, I'm gonna carry you in. In my head, in my heart, in my soul."



I found this picture of us this week and I love it! This was the night I came to your Awards Ceremony and you won Miss JP2; the most prestigious award they gave out that night! You looked beautiful as always and I was so proud of you!

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