Just Nineteen Years Ago

"I was born on August 15, 1991 and exactly one year and two months later, I took my first step. A step towards a long life of beauty, but of course I fell right after that first step. Ten months later I said my first sentence... it ended with a swear, of course. Just four years and three months after my birth, I was reading and writing the alphabet. I was a smart cookie. My favorite word was one my mother did not approve of. My favorite stuffed animal never left my side and I colored my bedroom's white walls orange because it was Pookie (my stuffed animal's) favorite color. I told my mother, "But, Mommy, Pookie the Bear told me to." I didn't get in trouble, thanks to Pookie. A little under a year after that I dressed in overalls, put my hair in pigtails, grabbed Pookie, tied my own shoe laces, and put on my back pack as Mommy watched me climb the big yellow bus and sit all by myself two seats away from the bus driver. She wasn't there that day to see me make my new best friend, Amy. She wasn't there to see me eat all of my lunch. She was there, waiting at the end of the day, to see me run off the bus and she was there to catch me when I tripped on a rock as I ran to tell her someone stole Pookie from me that first day. I cried for hours. Two years later I lost my best friend Amy because she moved away. I made a few new friends, though. Their names were Jack and Jill and they were brother and sister. Five years later, they understood why I called them the Storybook Siblings. Twelve years after my birth I started noticing girly changes and an interest in boys. Jarrod Bewler showed an interest in me that seventh grade year. He soon became my first kiss. Mommy was there to hold me when Jarrod broke my heart four months later. First heartbreak is always a bummer. Two years later I entered high school and Mommy was there to buy me my first cell phone and go to the movies with boys who had cars. She was there when I received an award for singing, she was there for all my plays, and she was there three years later when I turned seventeen. Three months after my seventeenth birthday, on November 16, 2009 I was diagnosed with Melanoma. Just like I had 16 years before, I took one step but quickly plummeted towards the ground when I heard the news. Just like I had ten years before when I lost my best friend, I cried for hours. Mommy held me. She was there, just like she always had been. Just like I had 12 years before, I put my hair in pigtails, at least what hair was left. Just like I had 15 years before, I swore. I swore I would live my beautiful life to the best of my ability. I'd make new friends. And exactly two years and 8 months after my diagnosis, that is what I am doing. I am living my last month beautifully and sparingly. Mommy is here, holding my hand by my bedside. She's always been there. Pookie is here, too, holding my other hand. In one month, I will celebrate my twentieth birthday. Hopefully. I've only got one month left in this beautiful, short-lived life I've lived. Maybe I'll make it to August 15, 2011."

I put my daughter's journal back on her bedroom shelf. I moved the shelf and behind it were the streaks of orange crayon she had colored-- just fifteen years ago. Exactly four months and ten days after my daughter's death, it's December 25, 2011 and I spend my first Christmas without her. I repeat it, "Just fifteen years ago, fifteen years, fifteen." Today, I realize how important time really is, because just fifteen years ago, I watched my five year old daughter get on her very first school bus ride and just four months ago, I buried her at the age of 20 and one day.





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