It goes without saying that I love you. It’s unnecessary to shout it from the rooftops, and despite that it has become common practice to preach one’s grief to all of Facebook, I don’t feel comfortable doing so any longer. The truth is that to do so feels inauthentic. It feels like I have been living my life of bliss all year only to have a momentary period of grief overtake me. It feels like how one remembers that she has left the iron on in the middle of club-hopping with her girlfriends – an afterthought. And so, while I have posted your “Tribute in Pink” again this year, this will be the last time that I do so.
Your death has been harder in more ways than imaginable. I had hoped that our family would heal and move forward in peace but what I have come to learn is that death, on its own, does not change people. But more importantly, what I have learned is that healing- in whatever way it is done- is paramount to living a successful life. Without healing it is impossible to find joy.
I have spent the years since your death healing because what I felt upon learning that you died, was anger. I was angry at the Universe for taking you before we all had a chance to connect again. I was angry at your boyfriend for not keeping you safe and well. I was angry at your ex-husband for not loving you enough. I was angry at you for all of the bad decisions. I was angry at our mother for driving a wedge between us and enabling you. I was angry for the lies, the competitiveness, and the lack of respect that seemed to define our family. And I was angry at myself for not reaching out to squash the latest round of Kennedy Girls Drama. I was angry at your so-called friends who came out of the woodwork to preach how much they loved you but who never took the time to be honest with you. I was angry at those who claimed to be close to you but took every opportunity to ridicule you behind your back. I was angry at you for all of the love you showed others while being mean, vindictive, and cold to Caroline and me.
And I was sad. You are such a part of my existence. You were the spontaneity that kept our family on its toes. You were the smile that made days brighter. I remembered how you sat with me in a hospital room in Vegas when Andrew and I were experiencing the worst of life and pregnancy, and you told me I was beautiful! You supported me at basketball games, and you had my back when anyone would mess with me. You were a buffer for the harshness of life, and then you were gone. And, above all, I was sad for your daughters because they would never get to know the best of you.
In the aftermath of this great loss, I wanted so much to stitch our family back together. I vowed to try to build a relationship with our mother, your daughters, and to heal the relationship with Caroline. I believed that in doing so, I could make sense of this loss. But the truth is, that death is not a good enough reason. People must be willing to heal and move forward. We have to be willing to let go of the anger and sadness so that we can see joy.
So today, I need to say that I forgive you. I forgive you for your shortcomings, your selfishness, your meanness, and your failures.
But I am also sorry.
I am sorry that I allowed things to fester and that I did not see the truth about what had been done to our relationship sooner. I am sorry that I wanted you to be someone that you were not and that I held you to a standard to which even I could not live. I am sorry that I did not appreciate your value and that while we were very different, I did not understand how much we were the same.
I lit a candle in your honor of your life, and I will probably do so again next year. But whatever I decide to do, I will do in private. I have finished with the public displays of grief. I would rather show healing. The truth is that you are no longer here with us, but I have to keep living and to do so, I have to release myself from the obligation of grief.