Today marks three years since you left us. Every year when we begin approaching the anniversary of your escape, I always feel an agonizing feeling inside my stomach and wonder if you will come back for a visit. Well, this year, I am not as naive. This year, I didn’t expect you to come visit on your anniversary in my dreams. This year, I was stronger than the last two years, and I knew I could get by without seeing you again. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel as miserable.
This year has been an emotional year for me. Chris and I had our wedding in March; in fact, I saw you when I walked down the steps to the aisle. You were there. No one else saw you. But I did; you were staring right at me and smiling, just like I thought you’d be. We did all these things to get you to come: we named the tables after your favorite foods, we had photos of us together around the venue; we put your name on our wedding program. Chris even gave a speech and talked about how important you were to me, to us, and how much we missed you that day. It brought tears to my eyes and to all three of my bridesmaids’, my childhood friends that you saw all the time when we were growing up together. There was some surprise regarding how much you were in the wedding, but I didn’t really want it to be a surprise. I wanted every single person to know that I’m painfully aware that you’re no longer part of this life physically, but you will always be in my life — in my head and in my heart. I miss you more than anyone could possibly imagine, and I don’t want you to think that on what is supposed to be the biggest day of my life that I had forgotten about you for even a second.
This year is an election year, and a scary one at that. Donald Trump could end up being our president, and that is absolutely terrifying to me. Sometimes, I slip back into my cynical thinking and I think that the world is going to be a worse place, especially if he ends up getting elected. But then I am quickly reminded that if I keep thinking negatively, I will do you and your memory a disservice. I need to be strong, even when it’s hard, for you. I need to work my hardest to prove to you that life is worth living, that the world is going to be better place in the future for the future children of the world. You know what I want? I want the world to become a better place so that you can look down on us and think, “Man, I wanted out on that? What was I thinking?!” We have a lot of work to do to get there, though.
I don’t want to upset you, but our dad didn’t say anything about the anniversary of your passing as I expected; he never has, and he probably never will. He’s too out of touch with human emotion to be able to do that with me or anyone. Some people and things will never change, sadly. Our mom is picking fights with me about Chris and his family since the wedding, but you probably already predicted yourself that would happen; you probably know our mother better than I do.
When I look back at our time together, I have many regrets… as useless as they are. But one regret I have that I always get reminded of every year is that we didn’t spend your last Christmas together. Under my bed in our tiny apartment here in Manhattan, I still have the collection of ornaments that you and I collected, and many that you so generously bought for me (70-80 percent off at Macy’s after Christmas, no less!). What I want to do is to have our own Christmas tree to hang up all these ornaments, and it would be an ode to you and how much you loved Christmas and everything about it. That home we shared never truly embraced Christmas, but you always looked forward to that time of year anyway. It would be amazing for us to have one more Christmas together, just us, away from the dysfunctional and maddening family we share. You would no doubt drive me crazy with your obsessive compulsive ways and your lack of desire to wash dishes or clean, but I’d suck it up since I haven’t seen you in too long.
There have been a lot of times in the last three years when I wanted to take a break from reality, pause it all, and just come hang out with you. That sounds ridiculous and is clearly impossible, but it doesn’t mean I don’t wish it could happen. I promise I wouldn’t complain about our mother to you, and I also promise that I wouldn’t try to beg you to come back. I just wish I could see you again. I know it’s selfish, but I occasionally find myself envious when I hear about my friends or my colleagues spending time with their siblings like it’s no big deal. I feel even more hurt when they express how close they are to their brother or sister. It shouldn’t be a big deal, but it is to me because I no longer have that option anymore.
A number of colleagues and friends, after learning about your passing and how it happened, tell me they’d like to chat with me about it sometime. For the most part, it doesn’t happen. In the beginning, because it was so new and still raw for me, I didn’t always answer the question of “how” directly, either. It was too much at the time. But as time has gone on, I’m more comfortable talking about it to reduce the stigma around it and to help other people understand what they may not want to or be able to understand. Now, I’ve realized that I’m not really creating the problem; the people who want to know but fear knowing are adding to the problem. I would love to openly tell anyone about this in an effort to potentially help someone else’s life, but so many people are scared. They are scared of my getting hurt (I’m not), they are scared of understanding, and they are probably scared of how they will react. I would love for the day when people would cut the bullshit and just ask what they want to ask and listen — truly listen and not just listen for the moment and move on to the next idea. I’d love for them to listen, digest what they’ve heard, and see how they could apply this knowledge to their lives potentially in the future. I’m sitting here waiting for that to happen.
Well, I decided to do a few things for you to remember you this weekend. I’m making one of your favorite soups — West Lake beef soup. I even made my own stock, used the egg whites, and everything. I’m also making Chinese sticky rice, and contrary to what our grandma used to do, I’m stuffing it like crazy with meat and seafood filling, so the ratio of filling to sticky rice is almost 1:1. I’m sure you would have enjoyed this. If you were here, I also wouldn’t have made you wash the dishes since I know you hate that.
It’s time for me to say goodbye for now. I’ve never really said goodbye to you because it’s too hard for me to say. I couldn’t even say it to you when they closed your casket, and I couldn’t see your face in the flesh again. I couldn’t even be there when they closed it because it was too hard for me that day. I hope you aren’t upset by that.
Each night, I still wait for you to visit. You only really come about once a month now, but that’s okay. You can do whatever you want now since you’re free. You’ve escaped. I won’t see you again here, but just like that Puff Daddy (or P. Diddy now as he’s known) song, “On that morning / When this life is over / I know / I’ll see your face.”
Hope you will be patient with me for that moment because there’s a lot of things I need to do in this life before it’s over. Until then, I’ll see you in my dreams… because that’s all I can really hope for. Love you.
your hopeful sister Yvonne