I have always been the strong one. I’m always the one who keeps everything in; the one who tries not to let anything get to her.
I can remember May 4th, 2013 like it was yesterday. I remember sitting in my bedroom floor crying, yelling, and trying to process what was happening to my life. You were in the hospital. Our parents were there, but we weren’t allowed to come see you. I’m never the person that says “I love you” first, but I still thank God everyday that the last time I saw you, I said it.
We knew you’d come out of it. You’d get better like you always did.
But you didn’t.
I woke up the next morning and mom was home. In a split second I knew that my world had changed forever. You wouldn’t be there anymore, not physically. I wouldn’t get to see you sitting in your chair in the living room again. I wouldn’t get birthday cards with your signature anymore. You wouldn’t get to see me go to my senior prom, or graduate high school, or go to college, or get married. I wouldn’t get to admire the way that you looked at Nana anymore. I wouldn’t get to hear you pray, or laugh anymore. I wouldn’t be able to hug you. I wouldn’t be able to tell you how much you meant to me because I assumed that I would have more time.
In that split second, I made a pact with myself that I would be the strong one for everyone else. I wouldn’t let them see me cry. I wouldn’t let them see me upset, because I knew you were in a better place. You weren’t sick anymore. You could do whatever you wanted without physical limitations. You were now walking streets of gold and hanging out with angels. But that didn’t make this process any easier.
It’s been three years and three days, but I still think about you during every single day. Sometimes I can even feel you watching over me.
You were the type of person that I can only aspire to be. You were intelligent, hard-working, and compassionate. You were always honest. You loved God and you loved people the way that God loves them. You had a laugh that could light up a room. You loved life. You never gave up. You were also stubborn and persistent, maybe that’s where I get it from.
I’ve been hoping that you’ve been watching me. I hope that you’re proud of me. I’m trying to be the kind of person that you were. I will never forget what Bro. Darvie said about you at your funeral. He said, “Willard was the kind of man that didn’t talk much. But when he did, everyone stopped to listen.” That’s the kind of person that I want to be. Thank you for inspiring me to use my voice.
I hope Jesus let you watch “American Cheerleader” in Heaven. I hope he let you peek through the clouds to see me get my acceptance letter to GSP. I hope you were at my NHS induction. I hope that you weren’t looking when I first started driving… We’re still working on that one. I hope that you were there when I was elected senior class Vice President, and when I was on the homecoming court, and when I won Prom Queen. I hope you got to sit next to Nana at my baccalaureate. I hope you were next to my parents at my high school graduation. I hope that you smiled when you found out that I got into The Leadership Development Program at UK, and that I started an organization on campus. I hope that you’re proud of me for not giving up when things get hard at school. I love coffee now, I know that’s new. When I get to heaven we’ll definitely stop at a coffee shop at least once a day.
I hope you’re proud of the strong, opinionated, independent person that I’ve become. I hope you’re proud of the woman that I am still becoming. Everything I’ve done and accomplished has been in the hopes that I would become more like you.
It’s been three years and three days, and I still think about you every day.
I wish I would have said “I love you” more. I wish I would have come over more. I wish I would have asked you to tell more stories. I wish we would have taken more pictures. I wish I could have one more day with you.
I know you’re having a blast in Heaven. I just wanted to let you know that nothing has changed, and that you’re still one of my heroes. I love you, and I’m going to keep trying to make you proud.