I don't talk about it much on the blog anymore but every now and then I feel compelled to share something about this journey of healing after losing my sister to breast cancer last year when she was only 41 years old.
I'd like to say each day it gets easier, but I think it got way worse before any sign of sunshine appeared. Details of my nieces that I can't share have been the most heartbreaking watching them pick of the pieces of losing their mother way too young have been the hardest. Seeing my mother experience the unimaginable of losing a daughter has also been agonizing. At times, I'm not the "fun" and "cool" aunt anymore, I'm more of the rolling-your-eyes-at-me-
The hardest times are the ones that I just wish she was here to see something or ask her something about what she would want for her girls. I go with my gut but I throw in a good "you should know better" for good measure like I know my sister would.
Most recently, my oldest niece had her senior prom. Prom...it's a huge event in the life of a teenager and here she is about to graduate high school and my sister isn't here to see it. Talk about gut-wrenching.
I remember right before Tonya died, when we knew she was terminal, Tonya and I were talking about how expensive Madison's dress was for her junior prom. Tonya said, "Well, I'm not going to see her in her wedding dress, so I told her to get it."
I'll never forget that.
Madison looked beautiful in her dress that cost more than my wedding dress. (Since when did that happen?)
I'm not sure how she made it all night in those shoes. Those are what I call 15 minute shoes.
As I'm taking Madison's pictures, I look over at my youngest niece, Avery, who is holding this big beautiful butterfly in the middle of this urban/industrial area. I asked her where she got it and she said it was just sitting on the ground a few feet from us. I'm not talking about one of those tiny little butterflies, I mean this butterfly was showing off it knowing it was so huge and beautiful.
For those of you who don't know, my sister's middle name means butterfly and shortly after her death we released butterflies in her memory and it was also very symbolic with her battle with cancer.
That butterfly stayed on my niece's hand for at least 5 minutes, and then went to each girls' hand. It stayed nearly the entire time we took photos. I've had small whispers of her presence since her passing, but this wasn't just a whisper, this was as good as Tonya just showing up and saying, "Hey girls, what's up? It's me, Mama and ain't no way I'm missing my baby's senior prom."
I can't shake this from my mind. I know that without a doubt it was her. And how perfect that even after her death she finds a way to still be a mama, because more than anything that was what was most important to her.
So I know next week when my niece is walking across that stage to get her diploma and in everything in her life thereafter that her mama, without a doubt, isn't missing a thing. She's there and just when we think she's missed some life event, she sends us a sign to say, "I'm here."
I'm so grateful for this visit from her even as brief as it was.
"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a beautiful butterfly." (Proverb)