My sister passed away yesterday. Amid the tears, the shock, and the heartache I have been able to write something for her and to her. I'd like to share it here.
Trina Gowan We travelled to Aruba and back together. We went farther than I ever would have gone on my own. We drove to Miami, which I maintain to this day was an insane idea in the first place, but off we went. We all hopped on a cruise ship together and then headed for South America (practically). We drove and drove. BUT you would NOT let me take your picture even once. So, I honoured that request and instead, I took about 40 pictures of your Hello Kitty air-freshener and the dashboard of your car as Liv and I sat in the back seat, your devoted companions, while we covered hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of miles.
I look at these pictures and I am still so blown away at the experience that my family and I enjoyed due to your hard work and the courage to dream big. Because of you I have seen the White House, the Statue of Liberty, every State from Maine to Miami along the Eastern Seaboard. I've seen the great Smoky Mountains and I've walked on white sandy beaches. I have swam in the Caribbean Sea. I got to feed an ostrich by hand. I got to feed wild angel fish. I got to kiss a dolphin, ride an airboat in the Everglades and drive around Marco Island in full-blown touristy wonder. I got to try Krispy Kreme donuts and cherry limeades from Sonic. I saw Victorian mansions and a piece of the Berlin Wall. I saw the airplanes flying overhead while I swam in a beautiful swimming pool and watched tiny lizards play in the trees. I ate fillet mignon and super fancy salads that I can't even name. My son got to celebrate his 13th birthday in the dining room of a cruse ship with chocolate cake, candles, and men and women from all over the world singing happy birthday to my boy. I, of course, wept like a baby as I watched him blow out the candles. I was in awe. It was utterly surreal. I slept in some of the worst hotels I have ever seen in my life and I slept in some of the nicest hotels I have ever seen in my life. All this and so much more. I wonder if I took it for granted that you would always be there to convince me to go on an adventure. I always thought of a million reasons why it wouldn't work out (but it did) and now I wish I could go again and again and again. Life is so funny. I wish I had known this last trip was to be our very last trip together. I thought I had time. Time to get "ready" to do these things. Little did I know we are never ready. The time is never right. You just have to go anyway. I see that now. I wish I had relaxed more and worried less. I might have done a lot of things differently. I might have been less serious. Less concerned. I might have swung from the rafters and acted just as crazy as I possibly could for the sheer joy of it. Just to make you laugh that irresistible laugh of yours. As it was, I was a nervous wreck and I worried about every little thing. Everything. I hope I didn't ruin it for you. It seems like everything in life has always moved too fast for me.
I have been pondering the amount of life and energy and courage you had. There isn't another soul on the planet that would suggest getting little nervous Jody (and her little kids and equally nervous husband) out to see the world. I still have a hard time believing you were able to convince me! I would never have forced myself to go without you. Now, I am a changed human being because of it. My kids are too. Your contribution to our lives is priceless. My loss (our loss) is unbearable, but I will get through it and I will travel again someday in honour of you. I hope I will. I hope my children will.
I had big dreams that we would travel to Alberta together when (and if) I finally get my degree in the next few years. I was so sure you would be there to take me because I know you know the way.
You were the centre of my whole world for as long as I can remember. You took the place of a second parent for me in so many many ways after Dad died. You made me feel safe. You made me feel like the impossible was possible. I know we drove each other crazy a lot of the time, there were growing pains and there were seemingly endless conflicts between us as there is between most sisters, I think. But I know you loved me and I know you know I loved you. We all loved you very much.
I never ever ever dreamed you would go somewhere where I could not follow.
-Forever your baby sister,