A year ago today the world lost a truly amazing young woman. I have watched friends and family mourn that loss for a whole year now. Back in July I wrote this. I was getting ready to post it, but I just felt a little too angry and emotional. Today I'm at peace. Because today I'mso aware of the fact that she is also. Her time on earth was able to be so short because she needed so much less time to make so much bigger of an impact on the world than the rest of us. But here's the letter I wrote to her. From my heart.
Happy Birthday, Shaqual. I remember your 16th birthday like it was last year. I remember your smile and watching you do your hair. You were only 16. And already so gorgeous. There was probably never a period of teenage awkwardness for you. You seem like you've always been so full of happiness, mischief, and life. It was your birthday. But it was actually my birthday, too. I turned 25 that year. So it was a pretty big birthday for both of us. You sent me one of those ridiculous MySpace messages. The ones with 30 questions like, "what color socks are you wearing right now," or, "who is the last person you kissed." One of the questions you answered was, "Where do you want to be when you turn 25?" Your response has been screaming in my head for 9 months now. You said, "Gross. That's sooo old. I hope I'm dead." I have told that story every year on our birthday. Every year it's been such a funny story because we both knew you didn't mean it. But there I was, 25 years YOUNG and realizing that through the eyes of a teenager, I was old. 25 has still been the hardest birthday for me. With my husband, and my two-year-old, and the help of a 16-year-old girl, it was the year I finally felt like an adult, even if I still refuse to act like one. But this year I won't tell the story the same way. The story isn't funny anymore. Its been haunting me since September. Tomorrow I won't get a text or a Facebook message from you. I won't wonder what you are doing and if you are celebrating too much. And this year, in your honor, I won't feel old. Because 31 isn't old. And 25 isn't old. And 21 was just way too young. I spend more time than I should being angry. At Heavenly Father, at Life, and even at you. Everything about life sometimes just seems so unfair. But at the end of the day, I know it's ok. For whatever reason, you needed to go. Heavenly Father needed you. He has you. He loves you. He is taking care of you. So in a way it's strangely beautiful that your young gorgeous face will forever be frozen in time. This will be your most peaceful, rewarding birthday ever. And I hope you are enjoying every Heavenly moment. Happy Birthday, Shaqual.