These Days Hurt

National Sisters Day.
Well, this one hurts.
Darn Hallmark Holidays.
It would be much easier if everyday could be national donut day, chocolate day or running day without having to hit the heart strings with these silly reminder days. 
I gave my Honey a few days warning that today could be emotional and challenging. 
Years past, Traci and I would acknowledge each other on days like today expressing our love,
and even hate, for each other.
All I have today is a flat gravestone staring back at me with no voice, phone call, Face Time
or handwritten card to read. 

Thinking back to all the conversations we shared I wish I recorded everything spoken regardless if it was said in respect or anger. I wish I could still hear that voice telling me I'm wrong, asking me what the kids were up to and reassuring me things were all good. 
What I do have are the cards I saved, the journals and emails sent, along with the last text messages that, Lord willing, never get deleted. I have all my memories stashed away and those that keep coming up from years ago or deep into childhood. I have inspiration from her fight; a life given example to faith and obedience. 
Being forced to remember verses celebrating in person sucks. 
No pretty way of saying that any other way. 

Today I think back to high school in our matching denim overalls with white shirts. I remember the day spent at Aunt Marilyn's house bending over the kitchen sink after sitting on her rust colored floral stool being wrapped in tight perm rods. Oh, the misery we endured for what Mom thought was adorable. Add to that the sink that followed us for days after and matching two bows pinned on each side and you had two goofy looking girls. 
Summer nights on the boat starring through the front V-berth window hatch, looking at the stars, cuddled up in sleeping bags brings youth to my memories. Other nights spent playing kick the can in the cut-de-sac with neighbor kids. 
She was always proud of me. From cheerleading to completing beauty school, she always had a card or gift package to celebrate my accomplishment. 
My sister was the best Auntie anyone could ask for. Oh how I loved shopping for the kids together, playing together or watching her beam with pride as the kids sought her attention. Anytime we went shopping, she'd always say, "You need to get yourself something because you always buy for others. Don't forget about yourself!"
Traci always gave me a hard time with play dough as I loath the smell, the mess and product in general. Whenever the kids went to her place for sleepovers it was the first thing to come out then a picture to show me how much fun the kids were having. Brat. I finally caved after years of this torment from her. 
I remember our tortured moments before her first surgery and those after being wheeled into her recovery room. Praying with Mom in her room, chest marked up, nearly smothering her as I essentially laid in her lap, asking God to calm our fears and be with Traci minutes before she was rolled into the surgery. Days later helping Traci with all the bathroom rituals and getting settled on the couch at the Mission house are precious moments caring for my sister. 
My sister was an incredible preschool teacher and one of her biggest concerns were for her students in understanding what was happening to their teacher. 
"Teacher Traci has happy cells and angry cells in her body. But, right now the angry cells are very sick so I need to take special medicine to make them happy again." She even had visuals to help the kids best understand and grasp the situation that was about to unfold. 
At the memorial service in Portland, one of Traci's first students who was at that little class discussion  introduced herself to me and thanked us as a family for the impact Traci had in her life. 
My sister was a life changer. 
She looked out for me. She wanted the best for me. She invested in me. She was incredibly proud of me. She made me laugh and she made me mad. We were just as stubborn as the other. 
We were sisters. Always will be. The memories are countless. 

So, on this day of remembering our sisters, my sweet sister, I will do just that. I will remember, celebrate, give thanks and toast a big sister who forever changed my life and those around her. I will embrace the sisters I still have around me who constantly lift me up, pray for me, encourage me and make me a better person.  I will learn to become a better sister myself as the challenge is never over. I will ask for forgiveness; I will want to laugh, cry and wrap my arms around the gifts God has placed in my life. Whether it's by blood or friendship; my life has many sisters and I'm blessed because of it. I will celebrate the blessing of family and see that our little ladies embrace each other in this unique relationship called sisterhood.  

Thank you sisters for loving me. My life is better with all of you in it. 

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