Everyone has a story.

“Maybe it’s true that everyone has a story, everyone. Maybe everyone needs a word on a page somewhere that says, I was here. I was.”

Some days are harder than others, for various reasons, and today is one of those hard days. It’s my sister’s birthday. She would have reminded me, when I called, that she’s younger. She loved teasing about me being the elder one. And honestly, I loved it too, because I loved being her big sister. I loved that I knew her from the very first day of her life.

But today is her birthday, and she’s not here to celebrate, or to tease. I’ve spent the day remembering. I remember the times we rode our bikes way further than we were allowed to when we were in elementary school. And I remember the times we took the car way further than we were allowed to in high school. She was always braver than me, and being with her helped me feel brave.

My sister didn’t worry much what other people thought, but she had a way of sensing what other people felt. She had a big tender heart. It got her into some interesting situations sometimes, and it endeared her to everyone. She noticed the wounded, the lonely, the underdog. I’ve always wanted to be more like her that way.

Everyone has a story, and most of the time we only know a little bit of another person’s experience. Most of us keep our deepest longings and fears and hurts and hopes hidden; most of us don’t want anyone to know our shadows, our demons, our battles. There are so many things that I never really knew about my sister’s journey.

But I know this: She was, and always will be part of my life. She inspired and challenged and adored me, and it was mutual. She was couragous and fierce with love. Her irreverent humor and creative mind and enormous heart brought so much goodness to so many. Her story was and is beautiful, sometimes hard, and too brief. She loved Jimmy Buffett and would be the first to say that “Some of it’s magic and some of it’s tragic.”

Everyone has a story. Today, I give thanks for my sister’s life, and the love that makes her story precious and beautiful and sacred.

Happy birthday, Wink.

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