Don’t forget to call someone today who means a lot to you and tell them. Doesn’t even matter how long the phone call is. Hearing your voice on the other end of the line will mean even more than a text message or an email. And heck, if you’re close enough, make plans to see them soon if you haven’t in a while.
Thank you all so much for your words of encouragement this morning. They’re helping push me through today. You guys are awesome.
“Everybody Hurts” - REM
Nicole loved REM.
Well, she went through a NKOTB phase when she was younger as well. But, obviously, her tastes improved greatly, thanks to her older brothers introducing her to the good stuff.
The pastor who officiated Nicole’s funeral, another huge REM fan, actually referenced this song during his talk at her service, having no idea how much she liked them.
Everybody hurts sometimes. Today, I hold on.
Today is a tough day. It’s been exactly 10 years since I lost my baby sister. It doesn’t help that a dear friend of ours lost her sister just a few days ago. It also doesn’t help that I’ve got some other stuff to deal with that’s going to set into motion a long, arduous process I’m not at all looking forward to.
Screw you, May 31st.
My wife left some empty pages in the book she gave me for my birthday, pages for some emails and letters she’s still waiting to receive from people she knows mean a lot to me, but just ran out of time to get them to her. This is something Nicole would have jumped on to be a part of, but also would have been one of the late arrivals. I’m probably going to ask her to leave at least one page blank. For her.
Looking back on what I wrote last year, it still pretty much sums up where I’m still at with all of it, so I simply copied and pasted it below.
I was on my way to a production studio in Dayton to do some editing, when my father called me and asked me to come to their house immediately. When I got there, I could see my mom through the window, sitting on their piano bench, with a woman I had never seen before standing beside her. I knew something was wrong, not only by the look on her face, but the fact that her car wasn’t there but she was, and she should have been at work.
When I stepped inside the house, my dad broke the news. Nicole, my 25-year-old sister, mother to my beautiful 6-year-old niece Morgan, wife to my dear friend Rob, had been killed in a car accident on her way home from working 3rd shift at around 8:25 a.m. It was a Friday. It was sunny. And hot.
To the people who say that “time heals all wounds,” I cry “el toro poo-poo.” Time, in fact doesn’t heal crap. I still miss her, just as much as I did the day she died. Every momentous occasion in my life, I’ve thought to myself, “If she were only here to see this.” My marriage to Stacie. The birth of our two children. The list goes on.
She LOVED the holidays. There was this contagious giddiness she’d get starting in November that would last through the New Year. You couldn’t possibly be a Grinch around her vortex of cheer. Not only would she NOT let you, once you looked in her eyes and saw the sparkle, the anticipation, the excitement she was feeling, you couldn’t help but be sucked in.
All the platitudes and sheer garbage that people feed you when you’re going through something like that is so extremely tough to swallow. People think that what they’re saying is somehow helpful. So many times it’s not. You know the things I remember the most? The things that simply blew my mind and made the most humbling impression on me the day she died?
- A couple guys from my dad’s church (he’s a pastor of a small congregation around Dayton…yes, I’m a preacher’s kid…yes, you’re thinking, that explains a LOT) mowing and trimming my parent’s lawn.
- People in the kitchen preparing food for not only us, but answering the phone, cleaning the house, collecting the dishes brought by people paying their respects.
- My friends Rob and Eric coming over and simply sitting in our living room, just being there for us. Not talking. Not really doing anything but just being there. I’ll never forget that.
- My best friend Traci rushing all the way from the other side of town to simply sit by me and hold my hand and let me cry when I needed to. She stayed there the entire day and never once left my side.
- There were others, but the hour is getting late (it’s almost 9 here on the west coast).
Here’s the thing: when someone who means a lot to you experiences a huge loss, what they need the most is to know that you’re there. It’s not about words. Nothing you can say will make it better or really ease the immeasurable pain they are feeling. But what you do? That will be remembered. And appreciated. Since her death, there are so many other people I have spoken to who have experienced the loss of a loved one who say the same thing. They don’t remember anything someone said to them the days surrounding the tragedy (well, unless it was something inappropriate, insensitive, rude, etc.), but they do remember the deeds. Be there for them. Hold their hand. Let them cry. Cry with them. Let them talk. Listen. Take care of the menial things that they’re incapable of thinking about dealing with.
I loved my sister. I miss her. I wish she were still here. May 31st will always be a painful day for my family and I. But we were so, so blessed to have had her for the time we did.
So, as the day winds down, hug someone you hold dear, call someone you care about and let them know. Nicole called me on my birthday, the week before she died. We talked for over an hour about a ton of stuff. Life. “Attack of the Clones.” Other movies coming out that summer. Morgan. Our parents. Our brother. And that was the last time I spoke to her. I am so grateful for that call.
Life is too short. Cherish the people close to you and remind them often how much they mean to you.
God, I still miss my sister.