I feel like a great many people expect me to walk around with tears streaming down my face, unable to face life, unable to cope, but that is simply not how I see death. I am not sad. For being the younger sister, I felt an extreme protectiveness towards Alicia. I (almost) always gave into her way, because I could not stand to see her upset. When we were young Alicia was unbelievably shy and she would often stand behind me and whisper in my ear her comment or question and I would speak for her. That was my job, I felt. As we grew up I often gave Alicia advice, which she promptly ignored. And I never once said “I told you so”, even when I really wanted to. I would deliver her Gatorade and Cheez-It’s when she didn’t feel well. I rubbed her shoulders and patted her back when she was sad. I mother-henned her at closing time, more than a few times. And those years we lived together we watched out for each other constantly. I felt responsible for her in a way I can’t explain. So when she was diagnosed with cancer, my instinct and need to care for her was in overdrive. I spent nights awake, it weighed on my heart and mind constantly. Even in the short period of time when she thought she was going to be okay, when she thought she was going to defeat cancer, I was still battling with the feeling that something was still wrong. Watching her suffer, watching her struggle, watching her lose the light that made her who she was. Watching her lose her laughter, her voice, her ability to eat, drink and celebrate. That was all far worse than seeing her die. Her death put her in the care of all those in Heaven; a far better place than the hands of those of us on Earth. I know she is with me. I may not be able to glance across the room and share an inside joke or roll my eyes at her, but she is here. God has literally taken my worries away and lifted a great weight from my shoulders. I believe that my 31 years with Alicia were a gift. Just as I see my children as a gift, and my husband, and my parents, and family and friends. We are only meant to live on Earth for a short time; but that is not the end of our time together. I am spending my days seizing my life, sucking the joy from each moment, filling myself with love and happiness in a way that I never have before. That is Alicia’s final gift to me (and she always was an amazing gift giver). I will not feel sorry for myself for losing my sister, but instead will remain thankful that I had her at all. What are you doing with your gifts?