“Are you an only child?”
I paused, not knowing how to answer. I hadn’t thought about it like that in the years since I lost my sister.
I am an only child, I guess. I am a sister without her sister. A friend without my friend. One of two. A hand without an arm. Lost. Empty. Forever missing my other half.
I still see her every time I look in the mirror. Or I’ll catch a glimpse of her walking by a window. No, wait. That’s me.
I’ll see her next to me at a red light. Short red hair nearly glowing in the sun. No, wait. That’s a stranger.
I see her pass me at Giant Eagle. A tall woman with a great smile, wearing a coat just like hers. But, wait. That’s not her either.
She’s everywhere and nowhere. She’s here, but she’s gone. Leaving me left forever in limbo. Time becoming measured by before and after.
I finally answer, “I lost my sister a few years ago.” And I know the look that follows. Embarrassment. Sadness. Sympathy. A million questions about how someone so young is gone.
I have the same questions. Questions without answers. A sister without her sister. A friend without her friend. One of two.
Not that she isn’t constantly on my mind—she is. She’s everywhere.
She’s the low whimper from her dog that craves attention only she could give.
She’s there when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and I see her face for a second.
She’s the silence after mom and I share a chuckle over something silly without a laugh from her.
She’s the empty place on the birthday card after I sign my name alone.
She’s the vacant chair at 9 p.m. when the house is quiet.
She’s the missing member when mom and I go out to dinner as a party of two, not three.
She’s the rainbow in the sky on a hot summer night.
She’s the snowflake on my cheek as I walk into work.
She’s a constant. An anchor. A lifeline. A sparkling soul that is gone too soon.
And she’s the tear that runs down my face when I think too much about all the things we never said and all the things we never did.
It’s not that she isn’t constantly on my mind—because she is. I’ve just learned to plow through the sadness, grief, regret, emptiness, guilt, and physical pain that her absence has left. And my words fall short of the never-ending love I have for my sweet sister. Love that has, in fact, grown in the two years since she’s been gone.
It’s not that she isn’t constantly on my mind—because she is. But today is a little harder, remembering all we had, all we lost, all the love she gave unselfishly to everyone in her meaningful, short life.