Dear Mom,

It’s been a year since you’ve left us now. I can’t say the past year has been pretty, but we’ve made it through.

We’re all learning what it means to live life without you in it. It’s weird and hard and infuriating. You were the glue that held everyone together and everyone is just a little lost without your guidance and leadership. Life, and the world, is simply just not the same with you not in it. I know you sometimes felt like you were an outsider, but your absence has proven that you were truly a Trevisan sister through and through and that you were so loved by so many. You are sorely missed by everyone.

Your Hillside crew is building you an outdoor reading and library memorial. A big one. I haven’t seen it, but the plans for it are so lovely and embody so much of you that I know you’d be both super honored and super embarrassed. You were simply being you, but to everyone else, you were a bright and shining star. Dad bottled lightning in the jar, showing that the light you shone in this world continues to shine even now. We all got one. It turns on when it’s dark, shining twinkling light in the dark room just like you. And at family gatherings, the host would always speak to your memory in the most lovely way. Your absence was noted often at ravioli making. You were so involved and always so present in everything you did that it’s jarring when you aren’t there. We all really, really miss you.

Lately, the world has been doing its best to fall apart. There is a new and deadly virus that is rampaging across the globe and leaving devastation in its wake. I sometimes stop to think about what you’d say about it and how you’d deal with it. I’m pretty sure you would’ve acknowledged that it was happening and then make an elaborate plan of action to keep everyone safe. You would worry in that way you would worry and make sure that we were all safe and check in even more frequently than you had before. With all of the schools closed, you would fret about all of the kiddos that you taught and you’d want to ensure their safety and well-being. You knew them all so well and what they needed and you would hope and pray that they were getting what they needed at home. And then you’d settle in at home with the Shelter-in-Place directive and probably clean and organize the entire house while you were waiting for it to blow over so you could come visit us again.

This virus is one of those things that has a lot of people thinking and reflecting about death, loss, and regret. As the virus rampages around the world and we hear staggering numbers of cases and deaths, people are turning inward; partially forced, with the Stay at Home orders, and partially because for some, death hasn’t been so up close and personal.

It’s made me think, once again, about the regrets I have regarding your passing. I only have one, really, and I guess that’s something to be thankful for. I never told you, but when I told Dad a few months after you passed away when it was just him and I sitting in the living room contemplating our new normal, he told me that you would have related to what I was saying and thought that maybe you had felt the same way. You see, I’m asexual (Ace); I feel no sexual attraction and never have. And I never told you because of one comment that seemed so insidious that I didn’t think you’d ever understand and I’m so sorry that I never gave you the chance to try. You have always been so supportive of me and it was the one thing I was never able to share with you, despite our friendship and sharing everything (else) with you. I wish I had trusted you with such an intrinsic part of who I am before it was too late.

Mostly though, I think about how grateful I am for the friendship that we had, our almost monthly get togethers, and our trips together: from family reunions, to that absolutely ridiculous “cabin” hut in Maine, to our trip out west to see the Grand Tetons, we were such a team. I love that we were able to spend so much time together and that we were able to have such a strong relationship. It means it hurts a LOT now, but it’s the kind of hurt that has so many fond memories and moments attached that I am willing to feel the pain of what a truly beautiful friendship we had together.

And I’m grateful that everything you taught me has translated to all of my friendships. I’ve created so many amazing lifelong friends. You’d be ecstatic to know that V is getting married (and that I was asked to stand for her!). You’d be proud that I’ve started running regularly, too. You’d find it fun that V and I figured out how to do Yoga together remotely over a video screen. And I think you’d be proud that I’ve finally found myself a therapist. Since January, Michael and I have taken up bouldering and now we go rock climbing at the local climbing gym at least once a week; well, we did, before the Shelter-in-Place order. I mentioned the world was falling apart, right? I’ve been building memories and moments to reflect on with everyone and I’m so grateful for the lesson you taught me: it doesn’t matter what we are doing as long as we’re together.

Before the virus descended onto the world and turned everything upside down, I quit my job right before Christmas and decided to try the whole freelance thing finally. After you passed, I had not one, but two, toxic managers and things spiraled a bit out of control. We had both agreed that this job had seemed so promising. When you were first diagnosed, you commented on how thankful you were for their support of me and allowing me to spend so much time with you during your diagnosis and initial treatment, especially with my upcoming month-long trip overseas…when I wouldn’t be able to visit you at all. I hate that it came to an end the way that it did, but I think you’d be proud of how I handled it. That I stood up for myself and that I knew better than to believe the people who were telling me that I was trash and incompetent. I find this especially noteworthy since I know I was such an impressionable kid that believed everything I was told and took most critique directly to heart.

Since I quit, things have been a lot better. I’ve been able to heal, take on part-time contracts, and live life to the fullest and bring out the best of myself. I think you’d see the change and be so happy for me. The extra time has also let me shop for a new camping trailer so we can take pets with us. Oh yeah, pets. Plural. We adopted a kitten! Her name is Piper and she is the biggest cuddler. You’d love her, but I think you’d still dote on Jackie just a wee bit more. Anyway, we settled on the cutest little teardrop trailer with the kitchen off the back. It’s adorable and I wish you could come outfit it with me when it comes in.

Oh mom, it’s been such a tumultuous journey, this past year. I’ve missed your advice and your reasoning. I’ve missed our chats. I’ve missed doing life with you.

We’re learning how to do life without you but also in memory of you. We miss you. We love you. Rest in heavenly peace.