Dear Laura -
It's been almost six months since I heard your voice. Or got a new text. Or had a conversation about fucking cancer (a word not many people ever heard you say). Six months. And even though I come and see you frequently and we have plenty of one sided, somewhat awkward conversations, I thought you might appreciate a little update on how life is going without you.
Most importantly, I want you to know that the girls are ok. There have been many smiles in the last six months to go along with the tears and I know that would make you happy. They are surrounded by love and watched over carefully. You worried about who would brush and braid their hair and you should know that part in particular is going swimmingly. They will never be whole without you and there are no doubt some terrible, awful times ahead, but I want you to know they are ok.
Your husband has proven to be one of the strongest people I've ever met. A total and complete pain in the ass to me personally, but an incredible father who is truly kicking the shit out of option B. (That won't make sense to you. Ask around up there for a guy named Dave. He'll explain.) He misses you so much and it hurts to see him hurt, but he won't let any of us wallow and so we spend a lot of time laughing. Mostly at him. And Mike makes him fancy drinks. A lot of fancy drinks. He is ok too.
I am happy to tell you that your family has not fallen apart but instead has bonded together and pulled each other through. I watch them from a distance and think of how I'd feel if I lost my sister or my daughter and I can't breathe. They could have laid down but they haven't. Your mom even rode the zip line at your sister's house on Easter. Not kidding. There's a video. They are all ok.
Your house looks amazing (mostly thanks to me)! It's painted the darker shade of grey (sorry but the lighter one looked beige), the office is almost done (not at all like you and I discussed but still awesome), we ordered a cushion for that window seat that bugged you, and Jeremy bought you a piano. It's gorgeous and your girls will learn to play it so you can listen. The house is more than ok.
There are too many friends to update you on but safe to say your leaving hasn't been easy on any of them. They have provided meals and rides and after school care and support in too many ways to describe. And they post on your Facebook wall all the time and tell you they miss you. I often wonder if you knew how many people really loved you. I hope so. It reminds me to tell others how much I love them, which weirds people out I am sure. But that's ok.
I guess that just leaves an update on how I am. I miss you my friend. I really, really do. The change of seasons is particularly crappy. Fall is almost here and instead of dealing with carpool or heading to a Labor Day soccer tourney like last year or discussing the Halloween parade that you refused to help me plan, I came to visit yesterday and left flowers on your grave. I am still sad but I am ok.
Every once in a while I re-read our old texts. Remember that conversation we had about your 25th anniversary and how you had a vision of being there, dancing with Jer and the girls were watching? You were 100% convinced that you would get to see that day. I think about that a lot and about your unwavering belief that you'd get better and that makes me sad and angry at how unfair life can be. But there are good memories too like when you put a baby bow on your big old bald head and we sat in your kitchen at 11 o'clock on a Tuesday night laughing hysterically. I'd post that picture here but I know you'd literally haunt me which would be ok.
Life is changing in some good ways and some hard ones. The soccer season starts tomorrow and our girls aren't on the same team. I know that would have made you sad. Bobby and Claire both made travel which means we bought a bigger car and I can hear you laughing about that. School starts in ten days and I know it will be a hard day - as all firsts have and will be this year. And Jer found someone lovely to help with the girls and I know that would give you a sense of peace. Life is different now, but that is ok.
The thing about death is that it leaves a wide path of destruction in its wake. Yours is no different and there have been a lot of painful days for those you loved, and for those who loved you the most. But what amazes me is that you have left us all with the strength to move forward and to thrive in your absence. And that is the truest testament of who you are as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend that there can ever be. You made sure we'd all be ok.
Thank you for trusting me and my little family to be there for yours. It has not been an easy journey and damn, I wish you were here to do it yourself, but I consider it a gift nonetheless. Rest well, my friend. We are all ok.
PS...I thought you'd like to see some pics of the kids and our goofball husbands from the past six months. I know they will make you smile.