My sweet Cait,
Four years ago you breathed your last breath on this earth. Some people say “it gets better with time” or “time heals.” While it’s true that healing is, indeed, happening, I’m not sure I agree that it “gets better.” The truth is, your death becomes more acute. The fact that we’ve been living on this earth without your physical form for four years is unbelievable, and most days I just miss you more.
Sure, life goes on. That it has! And life is deeply good. But missing you is just more pronounced. There are more moments when I want to call you, more moments when I want to hug you, more moments when I hear a song and I want you to listen to it too and then file it away so we can dance to it the next time we’re together. I wonder what you would be like as a twenty-seven-year-old woman, what you would be doing, what you would be wondering about, what would be catching your attention these days and filling you with life. While four years probably seems like a blip to some, to me it seems an incredibly long time to be without you.
And yet, there is something else that continues to grow and expand in this time since your death, and that is the presence OF you. I have come to accept that relationship with you has changed shape, but I am still in awe, and navigating the mysteries of the reality that relationship with you does, indeed, go on. Somehow, you are here, in the moments I need you most, in the moments I need your energy, your encouragement, your love. Somehow, sometimes even when I’m not even thinking about you, I’ll see something, or smell something, or hear something and WHAM, it’s you, reminding me you are here, still. Often, in prayer, you show up, frequently alongside Jesus. Sometimes, the two of you will just sit there, with me, smiling at me and laughing, almost as a reminder to let go, to take it all less seriously, and to have some fun for Christ’s sake. For Caity’s sake.
This time of year especially I remember your passing– those two and a half weeks Cait that we didn’t know if you would live or die, those agonizing days of prayer and sorrow and wonder at the beauty that somehow held you. Especially when we found ourselves in hospice with you, after we took you off life support, and we knew it was only a matter of time. We all piled in your room, in shifts curling up on your bed with you, talking to you, listening to you in the silence, playing songs and chants, praying rosary after rosary, reading you poetry and just looking at your beautiful face. Time became suspended, held, each moment sacred and whole in itself, because it meant another moment with you.
I remember the night before you died, somewhere around 3 am, I was up with you, and I felt moved to just start writing. In the transformation of time, even full sentences were too much, so I found myself writing bits of lines that became poems. This one is what poured forth that night, and many weeks later I realized it was from you, given, for us. Somehow, these were the words that you wanted me to know that night, and I keep coming back to them, as a reassurance of this life we are living now, this relationship we still have. And somehow, I know you never meant them to be mine, but all of ours– all those who loved you and who love you still.
Don’t get stuck in the whys and what ifs,
you tell me, the
thick, dark, sticky
Not for us to know, to figure out.
What will you make of my life?
How will you live this opening?
It is about LIFE, you repeat–
so far beyond me, beyond any understanding
Maybe that’s the point.
You can’t think your way through.
Please don’t try.
I honor your role.
I honor your life.
Leave the figuring out behind. Let it go now.
You don’t need it–
step into the light, the love that is
Thank you my Cait. In that expansive, explosive love of yours we continue to live and move and have our being. I remember once, a year or so before you died, you said to me, “Er, I am boundary-less!” At the time, you were exploring the heights of your love, speaking of your burning desire to love others fully, without boundary. Caitibabes, I find it amazing that your dream has come true, that you now love beyond any limit imaginable. Your love crosses time and ether. You remind us now of the truth that we whispered to you over and over in those hospital rooms:
You are loved,
you are loved,
you are loved,
you ARE love.
Babe, help us to listen. Help us to live, really, like this is true, like love can and does conquer all things.
I love you forever,
Your big sister,