A letter to my daughters who have watched me mourn your sister:
First and foremost, I want you to know that you are just as important to me as your sister. I love you and adore you and miss you when you aren’t here, just the same. I hope you know that. I hope you know that my heart is broken because we are not all together and that I long for her to be with us in everything we do. After all, she is a part of us. She is a part of what makes us a whole. And, since she is gone, since she’s away in Heaven, I try to carry her with us. In all our days and in all the things we do. On all our adventures. But I don’t think of her more than you. I think of her the same as you. ￼
I also want you to know that you are what helps hold my broken heart together.
You are my saving grace. What keeps air in my lungs and laughter on my lips, and the smile wrinkles around my eyes. You are the light in the dark. The sprinklers of glitter. The cherry on top. You are the hand of God that has wiped the tears from my eyes. He has used you to comfort my heart so many times. You are my blessings; what I thank God for every single day and night.
But, so is your sister.
I am also so thankful for her and to walk this earth knowing her smile and what it felt like to look into her eyes. Just because she went to Heaven before us doesn’t take away the blessing of knowing her, which is why we still celebrate her, say her name. Include her in our thoughts and prayers. Think about what she might be doing. And it’s okay. It’s okay to be happy, or it’s okay to be sad. You can come to me with all of it because I feel it, too. This is a journey we are on together, a sacred journey that is only ours. And we may all walk it a little differently from time to time, but that doesn’t stop us from leaning on each other. Holding each others’ hand. Offering our love and encouragement. It doesn’t have to look the same. But it will never stop being ours.
And I know you long for the way things used to be, the way things used to feel before you were asked to grow up in a moment, with things that are way too heavy to carry. I see it in your eyes how your soul is older than it should be. And I have heard you tell me before how you miss the old me. The momma that I used to be. And keep waiting for those light-hearted days to return. I miss that, too—all of it. The way my heart felt light and laughter came quicker than tears, and playtime was always what we were doing. I’ve looked back on those pictures of you and me. Both of our smiles were different than they are now, and I long for those days. And I’m so sorry for the days I can’t be more for you. The days I can only do so much. The days you have seen me cry. The days you have watched me sit on the sidelines. I’m sorry you lost the mother I used to be, alongside your sister.
And, I hope you know, I’m trying.
Trying so hard and fighting with everything I’ve got. To be who you need me to be. To provide what you need. To listen and be here for you. To comfort you when there are no words or understanding.
But here is what I can offer you. Because of what we have gone through, our lives have become something more. And you are something extra special. God is shaping your hearts in a way that is different than most. The pain and the tears are part of the story, but that’s no reason to be ashamed. That’s a reason to be proud because that pain and those tears are love in a different form.
And we love big. There may be tears, but there will also be laughing so hard our faces hurt. There will be joy, adventure, and courage to follow where our hearts lead. Intimacy with our Father, who has also suffered. Who knows loss and our heartache better than anyone. There will be togetherness. And strength. And confidence. Knowing the importance of slowing down. Living in the moment and enjoying simplicity. Looking for acts of kindness and the bright side and stopping to smell the wildflowers. Letting the wind play with our hair and race through our fingers, and sticking our feet out the car window. Letting the cool grass tickle our toes. Moments where we memorize the smells of the ocean. The way the sun paints the sky to say good morning and good night. The way we hold onto hope with all our might and always believe something extraordinary is about to happen.
Because we have lived it, we have lived the very worst and walked through the fire.
Fought with every step for life to be more. For our story not to end there. Handing over everything we were to God as He led us, shaped us, and used us for something more. More than we could imagine. We are coming out on the other side as more authentic versions of ourselves. Transforming us into who we were always intended to become. And we did it together. Hand in hand. Side by side by side.
One thing that will never change and has always been. Is that you light up my life, sweet girls.
You may not see it now because you are still in the middle of it all. But you are pure magic. The stuff starlight and wishing flowers are made of. You burst of hope and all things wild and free. And God is going to do great things through you. Without a doubt, this world will be better from you simply being in it. And a part of that will be from your childhood. From you learning how to carry a baby sister first in your arms, then in your heart. From watching your mother pick herself up off the floor. From your Daddy lifting you to ring the wind chime at the cemetery.
From playing endlessly with your other sister and becoming thick as thieves. From learning, you can do hard things. From finding a happy childhood around splintered heartache. From understanding who God is through all of this, how He is enough when nothing else is. How even though bad things happen, there will still be good. How to overcome. How to keep going, even when things aren’t the way we imagined them to be. How to celebrate, regardless. How kindness for others does so much for our hearts, from sprinkling glitter and thanking firefighters and police officers for their service and complimenting strangers and finding the heart rocks and always tucking a flower behind your ear.
This world will be better because of you.
And a part of that will always be because you know and love a sister already on the other side of the stars. That is simply a part of our story. But that is not all of it. That is not what defines you. Only God can do that. And you are so, so many great and wonderful things, sweet girls.
And every day that I have the privilege of watching you grow into that person fills up my soul. You are the reason my cup overflows. The reason I look forward to each day. And I pray and hope that you always know and are confident, without a moment’s doubt. I love you girlies with everything I’ve got, and I’m so proud of you.