Part of me keeps hoping that if I don't write this blog post, it never happened. You didn't die. You should still be working and playing and breathing in Manhattan.
But you're not. I flew back to our hometown in New Hampshire, to see you one last time, to kiss you on the forehead before the casket was closed.
How can this be? How can your beautiful life be over so soon?
You lived with gusto, with guts, with joy. You sang, you laughed, you cooked, you loved. You faced heartache and you came out a better person for it. You did not hide. You embraced your life and welcomed so many into your circle.
I was your smug older cousin, but I came to understand that I could learn a lot from you. I admired your ability to let your hurts go, and to live in the now. At the wake, your mom said that I was the one who taught you how to read. I don't remember that, but I know that you taught me to sing - to lift my voice, loud and proud. You helped me to see that I could be my free-spirit, uninhibited self. Why would I waste my time trying to be anybody else?
The morning of your funeral, I went for a walk in the woods that we roamed as kids. I took my camera, and found some comfort in noticing the beauty of the flowers on the path. Bluets were everywhere. Small, humble flowers, ones that we must have noticed every May, as the days grew warmer and the peepers began to sing in the blueberry pond.
As I finished my walk, I noticed - or felt? - a particular clump of bluets in the middle of the path. I kept walking, but something told me that I had to go back. It was somehow important that I photograph them. I put my camera down and pushed the shutter a couple of times.
As I reviewed the second photo, still crouching on the path, I finally saw what I was supposed to see: one bluet had five petals instead of four. Totally unexpected - I'd never seen that before.
I thought it looked like a star. And I smiled, thinking that you are a new star, too.
Thank you for being a part of my life.
I love you!