I’ve debated with myself for weeks on whether I should write this down. On whether seeing everything I’m feeling spelled out on paper would help it all seem more tangible. Obviously I’ve convinced myself that it will be worth it to write things down, even if it is only an exercise in verbiage.
As most of you know, Livvy, my sixteen-year-old sister and best friend passed away about a month ago after an accident at summer camp.
These past few weeks I have avoided thinking about the reality of what happened for one reason and one reason alone. I am so afraid of the anger that would consume me if I consider the reality with my usual, logical rationale. My usual rationale would tell me that the incident was entirely the camp’s fault. It would tell me that they should be brutally punished for the life they took from my sister and the hole that they have left in my heart. It would tell me that my sole purpose now is to persecute and avenge my sister.
But, I am not the avenger. I am not the one that is allowed to seek retribution. And no volatile words or actions of hate towards the camp will ever be able to bring back Livvy. The only thing I am capable of is forgiveness and love. Those are the only two things that will ever produce a positive change now. I know the camp feels responsible and grieves over their negligence. I can’t imagine the regret they bare on their shoulders. And as much as I am angry that they did not appear to value the safety of the children under their care, I must continue to love them as the imperfect humans that we all are.
Before now, I never understood what mourning, grief, and true losses are like. I’m fortunate enough to still have all of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins with me. And to those of you who are like that and have never experienced this sort of pain, you are the luckiest people on the face of the planet. Cherish the family that you have every day. Tell the people you love how you feel unceasingly and loudly. None of us will live forever, and we never know when our time will come, so we must squeeze all of the love and affection we can into what we have. If we’re lucky, we’ll keep getting to love for a long time.
Like I said, before now I never understood what mourning and grief were, but more importantly, I never understood the true power of love. True love is when the very thought that that person could be in danger or in pain leaves you weeping uncontrollably. It is when there is a perceivable change in the atmosphere and dullness to colors, tastes, and sounds after someone has left. And it is a feeling that you would rather die than live without that person. Those are the negative shockwaves of a love that has left you.
However, that same powerful love let Livvy and I experience the reality of what it means to be sisters for sixteen beautiful years. Our magnificent love was the kind that makes you remember really insignificant and pointless things about one another just so that you can make that person’s day by recalling it. It was the kind that made laughter appear out of the darkest and saddest of corners. It was the kind that led to mutual respect and unending admiration and the feeling that you are honestly loved unconditionally and unimaginably by another person. And as much as losing this sort of love hurts, I will never in a thousand years regret having loved Livvy that way.
The relationship that Livvy and I had is something that is rare, so I’ve been told. And I thank God every day of my life for letting us have that relationship. I wish that love on everyone that I see, especially the sisters and brothers out there. And if you don’t have a sibling or aren’t on good terms with yours, then I pray that you find that sort of connection with someone else, whether it be a best friend, cousin, parent, or partner.
The pain that I feel right now is unimaginable, and often I think to myself that it is unfair and unbearable. And at those moments I look around myself at all of the beautiful people that I have in my life and all of the love that has been showered onto my family. We have had people bring us meals, send us hundreds of cards, just sit and listen to us, brings us balloons, and donate thousands of dollars to the youth ministries that Livvy worked in. At least fifty people have messaged or told me directly that they will listen whenever I need to talk. I will never be able to adequately thank everyone who has sent their thoughts and prayers to us.
Earlier today I was crying to myself and looking into the mirror. And as I looked at my tear stained face, I kept imagining that Livvy was behind me with her hand on my shoulder. And she said to me, “Putz, do you know how much I love you?” And I said, “Of course! I love you too. I miss you so much Livvy.” “I know you do, but listen to me: I want you to go forth and conquer. I want you to go attack the world with your love and open heart. I want you to explore and feel and create beautiful things that mean something. I want you to remake the world out of your love. And at the end, I’ll be there waiting for you.”
I’d encourage everyone to listen to those words, because they definitely did not come from my proud, conceited mouth. My sister is the most beautiful soul that I will ever encounter as long as I live and I will remember her only as such.
So go forth and conquer friends, and love the world into a rampaging storm of revolution and progress. And above all, never forget to pause and tell your loved ones how much they mean to you.