Theory of Relativity

January 5th feels like the start of a different life. Everything in the present feels relative to life before then. The grief is all-consuming. It dulls all else. The sun shines a little less bright, happiness is less happy, sleep is less restorative. Everything bad is a little less bad in light of it just having gotten a whole lot worse.

There are no words to describe how you’re feeling after this kind of loss because all the words you know had different meanings before. “How are you doing?” is a simple question, but suddenly there aren’t enough adjectives for a simple answer. So I settle for “good”. Good, as in “good….relatively”.

The love and support we’ve received these past two and a half weeks is absolutely incredible. It is what has kept us together. People from all over the map and all across the timeline of our lives… cards, phone calls, drop-ins, emails, facebook messages…. Some people offer beautiful words, others make delicious casseroles. Some give the most comforting hugs, others share their extraordinary ability to make people laugh even in the toughest times. And more people than we can count have come forward to offer an ear for listening and a shoulder to cry on. The number of lives my sister has touched is a testament to her wonderful character and to my family’s warmth and love.

While there is no denying that Stephanie’s accident has affected an enormous number of people, the world somehow feels larger than ever now. For as many people that knew and loved my sister, there are millions more that didn’t. Though this grief is so big, the truth of the matter is, we are so small. And the world is moving on without us. Time may have stopped for this large army of friends and family, but the sun is still rising and setting. People are still shopping for birthday gifts at the mall and picking out produce at the grocery store. Waiting at red lights and paying their electric bills. Watching American Idol, arguing over politics. Life is going on. At some point, we will have to step back in. That’s where I am now… dipping my toes into the life I knew before January 5th.

A recurring theme to the wisdom that friends have shared about loss is that of a “new normal”. Things will never be the same, but we will grow accustomed to the change. The pain will lessen, but the scar will remain. We will learn to live with this void.

I understand that we’ll slowly reintegrate ourselves into the lives we knew before. I realize that we will learn to cope with having Steph solely in our memories. I believe in a new normal and I believe I can be happy within it.  But I can’t help but wonder if life will always feel relative to the one we lived before January 5th. If “good” will always be “good, relatively”. 


Her Gift was Love

Our "goodbye" to our sister from her Celebration of Life spoken one week ago today:

Since January 5th, we’ve been thinking about our baby sister. Her bubbly, hilariously-uncensored, personality. Her empathy and extraordinary drive to make other people feel special. Her beautiful smile, and contagious laugh. So many wonderful thoughts, but none that could be put into words that seemed suited for saying goodbye.

When we were looking through some of her things, a yellow post-it note fell out of one of her sketchbooks. On it, she'd written a quote by Pablo Picasso " The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away". Judging by outpouring of support from all the people whose lives she touched, it's clear that her gift was love.

Growing up, we girls were so fortunate to be surrounded by so much of that gift. Our immediate family, our extended family, our friends that are like family… Love was the most important aspect to our lives. In our house specifically, “I Hate you” was worse than any curse word. In moments of childish tantrums, that phrase was grounds for time out. Our father had a zero tolerance policy for this. “You’re sisters, you love each other, you always will” he would say. We are so grateful for this now. He never let us go to bed mad at each other and he never let us say goodbye without saying “I love you”.

And that’s all we can really think to say now. We love you, Stephanie. This goodbye is so different than the ones we’ve said before, but what matters is that we love you. And we always will.


In response to an Outpouring of Love...

To be completely honest, this time last night I was tortured by the idea of our horror story spreading throughout social media. It was so surreal, so devastating that what I was feeling seemed too personal for Facebook. No status or wallpost could rightly capture the beauty that was my baby sister or actually describe the impact of her being gone. I dreaded the moment the news would seep onto my page. I knew once it happened, it would spread exponentially. There was no taking it back.

In retrospect, I don’t know why I was so concerned about stopping time in that moment before everyone knew. What did it matter when the moment that really mattered, the one that changed everything, had already passed?

I would not wish the past 24 hours or what inevitably follows from here on anyone. This is the beginning of what will likely be one of the hardest times of my life. But I will say this: Social media ended up bringing me, not the torture I’d anticipated, but a small dose of comfort. In a time where I am much too far away from the people who I need and who need me most, it brought me a bit closer. Pictures slowly started appearing as people’s profiles. People from everywhere that know me personally and others I’ve never met started sharing stories. More people than I could ever hope to thank individually offered their sympathies.

None of this keeps me from breaking down with each flicker of a Stephanie-memory and each phone call with my parents or middle sister. But it does remind me that I’m not alone. Even though it might feel like I am from a geographical standpoint, I’m not. And, until everything is sorted and I can get to my family, I will be grateful for that. Thank you from the very bottom of my broken heart for thinking of me and my family. And, most importantly, for thinking of Stephanie.