It’s been another year around the sun and it has reached my least favorite of anniversaries, the death of my baby sister Brittany. It has been three short years and I can’t believe how quickly time passes and what life can happen in that window.
I think of Brittany daily, without fail. A drawing she did as a very little girl adorns my left arm, close to my heart. From time to time she appears in my dreams to scold me on whatever stupidity I’m into or maybe to console me about the ever evolving mystery of the women in my life. While I don’t believe in a God in Heaven, the echoes of those we love and loved us back remain. It is for those echoes and the memories of that silly little girl that I strive to honor everyday.
When you lose a family member, especially one who is much younger than you, and someone who is a vastly superiour person that you could ever hope to be, you are left with a survivor’s guilt. I can’t tell you how many times before and after her death I would curse the heavens and beg and plead to be taken instead. Those cries fell upon deaf ears, and late at night I lie in bed pondering my place in the universe I take into account that I am still here, and wonder how I can live up to be the person Brittany envisioned me to be. Or rather, how can I live to be as good and great as that lost soul.
We do not know how much time we have on this little blue ball. We might live to be 80 or 90 years old. We might die tomorrow. Since her passing, I’ve tried to live every moment like it might be my last. I don’t always succeed and if I’m being honest, I fail more often than not. Regardless, I’m trying to live a life that would have made my sister proud. If I were to die tomorrow, I would have no regrets.
I’ve thrown caution to the wind. I’ve traded security for adventure and I’ve come out triumphant. I can say without a doubt in my heart or mind, this last year has been the best year of my short little 31 year old life.
I may not know how I’m going to pay my rent next month, but I’m not broke. I’m whole. I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’ve accomplished so much in such a short little amount of time, and still I have tomorrow to look forward to. What other adventures can I fill the days with? Who else will I meet? What else can I do?
Still, survivors guilt sits deep down in my soul. I’m saddened that it took the death of my baby sister, one of my closest friends, to set me on this journey. It propelled me onto this road, and this road has brought me joy and satisfaction I never thought possible. It was a desperation to live NOW that caused me to beg Drag The River to take me on that first tour with Cheap Girls. A trip that opened up a whole new world of adventure. It was that desperation to live that has taken me to Atlanta or Chicago or all the other corners of America. It was that desperation to live that inspired me to pick up a microphone and go and meet my heroes. It was that desperation to live that I finally learned what living actually meant.
My hurry to live hasn’t always been a good thing, I’ve made some rash decisions. I’ve flown across the country, just to fall on my face. I jumped. I fell. I got back up again and soared. I’ve learned to love the bomb. It is the ability to get back up again and jump back on that horse and that is what life is all about. I didn’t let her death break me, I let it set me free.
I hope that those of you who read this will take from this that you should live for today. How would you react to the death of someone you love with all your heart? How would you continue on. I continue on, because she would have wanted me too. I try to live as honestely and fully in her memory. I just wish I could have done that when she was still alive.
If I was to die today. I would look back at these last few years with fond memories. I would be happy. I would have no regrets. My friends, next time you turn down a chance for adventure, I want you to sit back and truly ponder…What would we regret as we lie in our deathbeds? What adventures will we have wished we would have taken? I implore you to take those chances. Jump off that ledge. Learn to fly! Sieze the day! [Insert other cliche’s about living life now here. ]
I’ve done it, and I’m a better person for it. Only I hope you don’t wait till someone has died to learn these lessons. Jump, fall, live, learn and do it with those you love. We don’t know if we will always have that chance.
Brittany, I love your stupid little face. I miss you every day. Thank you for the lessons you have bestowed on me. I hope you are still proud of your big, dumb, brother. xoxo
[This is what I wrote last year: http://dammitdamian.blogspot.com/2011/09/glow-worms.html It made a ton of people cry. If you don’t know of my sister. Give it a read.]