Words do not come easily for a letter like this. Would that you were here because if you were, then that would mean that you came back from California. I sit here at the table by the window looking out on the trees struggling because of the drought, and yet like you did so many times, they continue to fight to live and to be all that they were meant to be. Like you, they nurture the many little birds that look for shade in the heat of the day; they grow the fruits and devote so much energy to those tiny bits of what will become food for others. I wish I could call you. Sometimes I still hit call on my cell phone after I bring up your number in my contacts, hoping by some miracle that you might answer. There isn’t even a message in your voice because you struggled so to speak after the strokes.
I want time to go backwards. I want the doctors to listen to you when you tell them that you’re having TIAs—you were a nurse and you knew. I want that evening back when you were sitting on the bottom step in the basement and I knew something was wrong, but you said you didn’t need any help and I left you alone. I left you alone so many times. I’m so sorry. I don’t know if I’d have called 911 that night, if the second stroke could have been prevented. You had come so far in recovery and now you had to start over. I know it was so hard for you to live with us, watching Jared and Alex living their lives with the gusto of their youth while you grappled to get your life back.
I know it felt like everyone faded away. I know you felt so alone. But I loved you as always and I wanted so much for you to be okay again, to be able to go back to nursing and living your life of travel and joy. You were always there for me, and I need you even now.
When you left for California, I was consumed with worry. I so thought you would call me to come and get you and bring you home, but you never did. We tried to talk several times but it was difficult for both of us because talking was so hard for you. We remained sisters and friends I know; I could hear it in the tone of your voice over the phone.
We had so many good times together—driving down that beach in Australia and singing whatever song that was over and over, trying to bring that big TV into the house in Yuma and dropping it, twice, and we overcame so much together sharing that tiny little room when we were in grade school.
Going through your things right now, all of that comes back to me. So many tears fall and sometimes I cannot stop them. When I think of you that final day—that horrible non-human man breaking you apart, and again you were alone. I hope you went somewhere in your mind and that God protected your heart as that violence tortured you and finally took you from us. I still can’t believe it. I just can’t believe it. I don’t want to believe it. I believe that you are with God, with our mom and daddy, with all of those who went before you. I believe they prepared for you to meet them, maybe they were even in your mind and heart at the end, surrounding you with their loving arms. Maybe Rebel was there licking your face and beating her tail. I hope it. I love you. I miss you.