Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tracey's 50th Birthday Letter

Dear Tracey,

Happy Birthday!
You would turn 50 years old today.  Holy Cow, you would be old.
You probably wouldn't like my saying that, but its hard to imagine because you've been gone for so long.  You died at age 39.  You never even dealt with the 40s, and today I'm trying to imagine you if you were 50.

I wish you were still here, but you have probably influenced my life more in your death.  The heartbreak and grief of watching you die shaped my life more than anything else.  I still know which clothes, furniture, mugs, and videos were yours.  One if my fears is that one day someone will see my old (your old bathrobe, nightgown, or sweatshirts) and tell me its time to replace it.  It is never going to be time to replace the material things I still have of yours.

There is so much I wish we could talk about.  You weren't around when I went off to college, pledged a sorority, studied abroad in Rome, had a college independent harp recital, and graduated.
You and I never talked about the fact I was engaged in college, the heartbreak that followed, my going to graduate school and living in Nashville.
You never came to visit me in Lexington, Nashville, Rome, or in Colorado.

You have never met my husband, my cat, or my dog.  Who are we kidding, of those three, you would prefer the cat or dog over my husband.  :-D  You were always partial to animals over people.  You have never met my in-laws... this whole new family that I am apart of and they have never met you.  I have this whole life of people who have never met you, who I cannot talk with about you or share memories with about you.

You didn't help me plan my wedding, you weren't a bridesmaid for me, you didn't dance with our dad, my husband, or our brother at my wedding.  Would you have helped my husband choose my engagement ring?  Would you have helped him surprise me with a proposal?  Would you have skied with us that day on Vail mountain and been there to take a video or a picture afterwards?  Would you have been one of the first people I called when we became engaged after Mom and Dad?  How excited would you have been to get that call or be a part of that surprise?

I'm married now, and there is so much I want to talk to you about.  I want to talk about in-laws, and household division of tasks, and work v. play, and sex, and traveling, and what is the right time to think about children, and how our animals will react to children, and if we should get another cat and dog, and a number of other things that sisters who are married talk about.  What were the first few years of your marriage to Dan like?  What is the marriage advice you would give me?  Would you like your new brother-in-law?

What would you have done for your 50th birthday, Trace?  Would you have taken a bunch of friends to Vail for skiing and mountain fun?  Would you be living in Vail, so you'd want to go somewhere else for your birthday?  Would you be married again, and your husband planning some amazing surprise for you?  Would you want to take a cruise?  Do a cancer survivor run?  Climb a mountain?  Go to Asia or Africa?  Would you want your family involved or just friends?

What would I give you for your 50th birthday?  Well, honestly, I'm not big on birthday presents, so don't get your hopes up or anything.  Maybe we'd go to lunch together?

Did we ever go to lunch or dinner together, just the two of us?
I feel like we must have at some point, but I don't think we did.  You gave me rides to my harp lessons a few times.  Thank you for those rides, by the way.  Did I ever thank you for driving me those places?  You picked me up... or dropped me off in Chicago on your way from Michigan to Minnesota once... so we spent time together, but I don't remember our ever having a meal together just the two of us.  I take that back, when I visited you in Minneapolis the summer I was 16, we had meals together... although it was a pretty awkward weekend if I remember correctly... but we were trying to be this thing called sisters.

We weren't the best sisters -- 21 years age difference and the fact you didn't really like kids weren't the best recipe for sisters... but I think we would have become better friends as time went on.  I like to think we would have learned to relate to one another as adults, but one never knows.

You would like facebook, Tracey.  And Netflix, and Pintrest, and the fact that musicals have made a comeback.  I think you would enjoy reality shows... last night the Bachelor Finale was on... which girl would you have hoped to win?
Would you be a mother?  Would you own another store?  Would you still be fighting cancer?

It is getting harder to remember you, Tracey.  Not because I don't remember you, but because it was so long ago that you were in my life.  When you died, I had JUST graduated from high school.  In order to remember times spent with you, I have to put myself back as a high-school 18-year-old and I have changed so much since then... its harder and harder to put myself back there and really remember.

You and I had 18 years together, and now you've been gone for 10.  That is more than half the time we had together, that you've been gone.  I can remember your voice, when I try, but it is harder to remember things you would say... when phrases sound like you.

My parents used to tell me frequently, "You sounded just like Tracey when you said that."  I cannot remember the last time they said that because its been so long since we heard you say anything.

I used to frequently be called "Tracey" back home, especially at church... even Dad used to call me Tracey accidentally.  That doesn't happen anymore, but I wish it did.

How are you, Trace?  I've talked on and on, and haven't asked how you are.  Healthy, finally?  Strong?  Happy?  I sure hope so.

I really miss you.  Your birthday is the one day of the year I REALLY let myself miss you in a way that I don't normally anymore.  You are remembered.  You are greatly missed.

Your Little Sister

P.S.  You wouldn't really prefer my animals to my husband, would you?

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1 comment:

  1. A beautiful letter to your sister. Just said a prayer for you and your family.


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