Of the essence

Two years have gone by since my brother passed away.

Two years since I got that phone call.

Two years since I wrote his obituary.

Two years since I read his eulogy.

Two years.

I know as the years continue to pass i’ll say, “wow – I can’t believe it’s been 5 years!” and, “wow – I can’t believe it’s been 10 years!” I’ll always be in a state of disbelief.

I can say with a fair amount of certainty that we have all lost someone dear to us. And it’s tough to tell how you’ll feel when a day like this sneaks up on you. Because there was such a strong unpredictability about how today would feel for me, I decided to plan ahead and give myself one simple thing: time.

Time off of work for one day. Time to perhaps organize my apartment, go to a yoga class, spend time with one of my most uplifting girlfriends, call my twin sister, check in on my family… just a little extra time.

Because one thing I realized is that time is a luxury we rarely ever have when we want it the most.

I don’t have the luxury of time to go back to my brother and have the million conversations that I wish I could. I don’t have time to hug him once more or tell him I love him. I don’t have time to argue with him over whether or not to keep Taylor Swift on the radio, or whose team is going to win the football game.

In the relationship between my brother and myself, I am completely and utterly out of time.

That is a heartbreaking reality that two years later i’m still learning how to both manage and adapt to.

Yet on the positive flip side – because I always fight to find one – I’m now acutely aware of this luxury of time, and day by day am trying to take advantage of the brutal lessons i’ve learned through the loss of my brother.

I’m trying to make the most of the time I have with those who I still have it with.

Whether that means taking extra vacation time to see my family over the holidays, or finally – after 10 years of friendship – having the courage to commit to a relationship with the man of my dreams, I’m giving life every ounce of effort I have left in this battered yet beating heart of mine.

It’s no secret that every day comes with a struggle and a challenge- for all of us. But it also comes with the opportunity to make the most of our time and the love we have for life and those we’re fortunate enough to share it with.

Life without my brother will never get easier. But the lessons i’ve learned from his loss will help me to make this life as beautiful as humanly possible.

I promise you that time is a luxury I will never, ever take for granted. And I hope you don’t either.

So now, how will you make the most of the time you have?


Just us girls

Late last week, I watched my Facebook newsfeed flood with posts about National Sibling Day. With the recent passing of my brother, it inevitably triggered an overwhelming sadness that was difficult for me to shake.

Yet as I scrolled through one picture after the other, I realized I was being a total jerk, because I still have two siblings who are alive and well right here, right now. My two sisters mean the world to me, and while I tell them I love them every day, let this be a testament to two of the strongest women I know.

Me, Emily, Mary. Easter 2013. Sorry you look like hell, Em 😉

Mary is my older sister, and the oldest kid in our family. Most who know me recognize Mary because she’s the mother to my feisty, hilarious, gorgeous niece, Alice. Next to my own mother, I truly believe that Mary is the most incredible mother on the entire planet. She has sacrificed more for Alice than the majority of people will ever know or understand. But what’s important to realize is that there is so much more to Mary than just her incredible skills as a mother. 

Mary has an unfailing loyalty to family. Without her, I would not be as close to my relatives who live out of state. She is a driving force behind the planning of our family reunions, always making sure that the only thing separating the bond between us all is a few extra miles on a map.

Family reunion in Myrtle Beach 2011
Family reunion in Myrtle Beach 2011

Mary is also the reason why cheerleading is such an instrumental part of my life. As I grew up, I watched her make up choreography in our backyard, had her as my coach when I was just a little girl, and admired her unbridled passion each and every time she performed. I now go to Mary for advice about my own team that I coach and trust her input above all else. I wouldn’t be who I am today without the influences and impact that Mary has had on me.

Mary supporting me at my first competition as a coach!
Mary supporting me at my first competition as a coach!

Emily is my twin sister and honest to God, my better half. Being a twin is the most secure feeling in the world. Emily knows what I’m feeling and thinking before I do, never hesitates to knock me in the head with good ol’ common sense and reassure me that if I just chill out for a second (easier said than done), everything will take the course it’s supposed to.

My number one fan
Can you tell we’re fraternal?

On our most recent birthday, I wrote a post dedicated entirely to Em. As i’m sure most of you reading this who have siblings understand, it’s nearly impossible to encapsulate your family relationships into words. My birthday post to her gets pretty close, though. I encourage you to take a walk down memory lane with me. Emily is one tough betch, I’ll tell ya that much. I grow into a better person each and every day because of what I learn as I admire my beautiful twin sister.

Emily (left) and myself

The older I get, the more I respect and admire the absolute hell out of my sisters. They are beautiful on the inside and out, each have their own strengths and weaknesses, and will fight until their dying day to do what’s best for our family. We pick each other back up after we fall, kick each other in the ass (sometimes quite literally) when we need it, always forgive, and love without casting judgement.

I may live the rest of my life with an irreversible sadness that my brother left me too soon, but I’m also going to live the rest of my life knowing that I have two sisters who I am proud to call my friends. That is something I’ll make sure they know without a shadow of a doubt until my dying day. Love you hooligans.

Just us girls ❤