3 Years + Holidays
Facebook reminded me this morning, that three years ago today, Alex and I took these Christmas card pictures. It's funny how time beats on and everything changes. I can go days without thinking about Alex now and I can walk through life with a lot less sadness. But then something as simple as Facebook can remind you of some of the best memories, and the past comes rushing back in.
When Alex first passed away, I didn't know if I would ever be able to make it through a day without wanting to talk to her. For weeks, even months I would pick up my phone and start to text her before realizing I couldn't do that any more. For so long I would gather thoughts in my head of things I wanted to tell her and stories I wanted to share. For far too long I went to sleep night after night just praying I would dream about her. She was on my mind all the time, and I never thought I would be able to function the same without her.
Well, three years later, and a lot has changed. About two years ago I stopped piling up thoughts and saving stories. I realized that Alex was with me every day and she already knew the stories I wanted to share and the secrets I wanted to tell her. I realized that life was moving on, and that was ok. As I began to grow and my life had a lot of changes, I started to realize that a lot of my life and the people in it were people she never met and experiences she never knew. While this was such a weird feeling, it made me more content. I began to feel as though she wasn't missing out because this new life was one she inspired me to do, even before she passed away.
I haven't posted about Alex in a while because the thoughts I have about her have been running through my mind and haven't been able to coherently make it into sentences. I think about her an awful lot though, and more so than I thought I would. Being in nursing school, I work with a wide variety of patients in clinical settings. And in this day and age, many of my patients have a history of drug abuse. When I decided to pursue nursing, I didn't necessarily do it because of Alex. I did it because Alex always encouraged me to do whatever it was I wanted, regardless of the time and the challenges that came with it. She pushed me to be who I wanted to be and to change my path if I felt it wasn't right. I did that, but I got more than I ever thought I would.
So, even though Alex never knew I was going to be a nurse while she was here with me, she still played such a prominent role in that decision. And now, so many of my patients remind me of Alex. I see so many people struggling with drug addictions. Not everyone gets it. To be honest, I still don't totally get it. But, one thing I do get, is the struggle. And the hardships. And the strain it puts on family and friends and all those who love that patient. It hurts me to see these patients addicted to drugs because I see my patient lying in that bed, wishing that my sister's overdose would've ended up in a hospital bed, and not in Heaven. But what I have learned, is that if Alex had to pass away from that, then I can use that to guide the way I live my life and the way I will act.
So, as Facebook reminded me of the sweet memories with Alex three years ago today, I am reminded of her ever shining light in my life and her continuous presence whether I realize it or not. I am reminded of her contagious smile and I can almost hear her laugh. I am reminded of her love of coffee and excitement for Christmas. Seeing these pictures remind me that while the holidays make me miss her that much more, they also make me cherish our memories a hundred times more. In the midst of so much darkness in our world, I find contentment in the memories of my sister, and the lessons she continues to teach me three years after her passing.
And I urge every one of you to cling on to your loved ones this holiday season, and every single day. Take silly pictures and drink lots of coffee. Listen to their laughter and smile at their presence. And please, don't forget to treat every person you encounter with kindness. During the holidays, far too many people are fighting the battle of grief and suppressing tears over loved ones they wish could be here. So be kind to the strangers at the store and smile to the person next to you. And never stop remembering how precious life is and what a blessing it is to be standing here today, enjoying this beautiful life.