Sunday, June 23, 2013

The One for Candace's 22nd Birthday


Hey shorty. It's your birthday!

Last year around this time Georgia and I were making cupcakes for your 21st birthday. We had dinner at La Casa and couldn't get a good picture because it's so dark in there. I thought it was trivial at the time. (Funny the things we take for granted. The inconveniences we don't pay much attention to.) I'm really glad I didn't miss your 21st. I'm glad I came home to celebrate with you. And I really enjoyed when you came to Portland the next weekend. We had so much fun, and soul-baring, that night. I will always cherish those memories. 

Somedays I get kind of mad at you for leaving. Not because it's your fault, but because I don't know who else to be mad at. 

And now I can't believe I have to live the rest of my life without you. That realization hurts so much, every moment of every day that I come to it. It seems so unfair that your absence will be felt at every special occasion, every family dinner.The shadow of our loss will cling in the air at every Christmas. My heart will break a little more every time I send a group text message and have to remind myself not to include your number. I will be at a loss for how to explain the story anytime someone innocently asks me how many brothers and sisters I have. 

The immediate time following your death was such a fog. A blur so thick with confusion and grief and misery that I can still feel it. It seems now that I have entered a new conscious understanding of how our lives have changed, of what is different. But I still reel in disbelief that I will never see you again. 

I think of the last time we really talked. I brought you a pita and we just chatted while the girls played on the trampoline at Mom's house. It was so innocent. So perfectly reflective of the ease, the subtlety with which we handled ourselves as sisters. We took for granted that we would both always be there. Always moving in and out of deep connection, assuming there would always be time. Not even thinking there wouldn't be another day to eat pitas by the trampoline. Never imagining the last time I saw you in Mom's kitchen with your new hair cut would be the last time I would see you well. Never beginning to comprehend that the last conversation we had on HeyTell would be the last time we ever talked. 

I've never had anything in my life truly end. I've never lost something I could never, ever have back. Except you. And you are one of the worst things to lose. I just can't wrap my mind around this. 

Did you know the ancient Babylonians were the first to come up with the idea of zero? A way to mark the absence of something? Before that, humans didn't have a way of defining negation, lack of existence. How could they have? And how can we bear it, now that we have a way of marking it? Some days I feel like I've just stumbled upon the concept of zero. All the realms of understanding it opens up. A whole new life in the shadow of death. Everything is different now. 

But nothing about this new reality makes me wish I hadn't known you. In fact, it makes me realize over and over again how grateful I am that we had you for 21 years. Helen Keller said, "What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes a part of us."  And it is so true. The love we shared is a part of me and will remain with me forever. I will never cease to be grateful for the light you carried with you. The smile even in trying circumstances. The compassion and kindness you always showed to those around you. 

I am touched to see the many lives you affected, the friendships you made, the way you have encouraged others, even in your death, to make their lives better. To strive for something worth having. You met many struggles with great resilience. You loved deeply even when you were hurt. And even now your life prompts us to seek the beauty in all things. 

Your birthday will always be so important to me. It's the day you came into our lives and changed them forever. 

Happy Birthday, beautiful. I miss you.

Love you always and forever. 


  1. Beautiful and honest, Michelle. Thinking about you and your family today . . . .

  2. I am glad I decided to read this today. Mark is mad at me. I may have "lost him" for a while and the separation hurts...but it's not a zero. I must keep in mind that even from a distance I can still watch him learn and grow. After all his life isn't about me and how I fit into it. I should just be happy he gets to live it. As for Candace, I believe she is in a better place. I believe death is a doorway and she is home again. I'm sorry that you have to be separated from her, but you will return home again someday too and she'll be waiting to give you a big hug.
    I love you beautiful lady. Can't wait to see you in less than a week!

  3. This is perfect. The paragraph about the Babylonians is beautiful. That is exactly how it feels to lose someone. This grief is new to you, but universal. Hopefully there's some comfort in that. Good on you for being able to capture it with such accuracy.


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