It's still so hard without her. I've felt an ache in my heart that I've never experienced in my life. An ache that I can't hug her or hear her laugh or see her beautiful smile. Sometimes I find myself saying things in "the Mikel voice" (my family knows what I am talking about) to my kids just so I can keep her alive in my mind. I still show Toby pictures of her and ask, "Who's that?" He will usually answer right away with, "Aunt Kel!" although sometimes he gives me a blank stare. When that happens I feel a twinge of pain as I realize that the memory of Mikel will eventually fade as he gets older and both he and Aspen will not know their Aunt Kel like they should have. Toby won't remember that the last evening he spent with her was at a Maverick gas station when she bought him a sucker. I remember sitting in the car anxiously waiting for them to return. Mikel had insisted on taking him inside to give me a break. I kept picturing Toby running up and down the aisles laughing while Mikel chased after him. But he did great - at least that is what she told me anyway.
It's interesting how death forever changes ones perspective. For me, Mikels absence has taught me to hold onto my kids a little longer when I hug them. It's taught me to not sweat the small stuff (something I'm really good at) and to learn to let go of grudges or hard feelings because they're just not worth the misery and are a waste of time. Yes, this life can be so hard and even cruel at times, but if anything Mikel's death has helped me to focus on the beautiful amidst the ugly, to see the tender mercies during the hard times, and made me realize all the more what a precious gift this life really is.
The other day while stuck in traffic, I sang along to a song from my iPod playlist that I had heard at least a dozen times or more. But for some reason this time the words struck me differently. Tears streamed my cheeks as I thought about Mikel. Too often I dwell on the fact that in this life I won't be able to see her, but this song (whether it was intended to be interpreted this way or not) reminded me that I will see her again. Because one of the blessings of Christ's Atonement is that he overcame physical death, someday my sweet sister will be reunited with her body and I will have the wonderful joy and privilege of embracing her once again. I have to remind myself of that. Especially in those painful moments of "what might have been."
If you would like to listen to the song, it's on the playlist above. And the lyrics are below. The artist is Keane, a British band (all the more fitting that it reminded me of Mikel). :)
Meet me in the morning when you wake up
Meet me in the morning then you'll wake up
If only I don't bend and break
I'll meet you on the other side
I'll meet you in the light
If only I don't suffocate
I'll meet you in the morning when you wake
Me, age 14, and Mikel, age 17, at a family reunion in Eden, UT.