I was thinking about you a lot last night. Well, to be honest, I think about you all of the time, most especially at night when I'm trying to fall asleep. It's so quiet at night that it's easier to hear my heart. I think this must be why. Because you live in my heart and I can hear you when I'm still and quiet and waiting for the dreams to come.
I was missing you so much. I talked to your mom and it helped. A lot. Your mom is awesome like that, but you know that-- you had to learn your magic from someone, after all.
That's when it happened. When I heard you. Really heard you. It's when I realized that it was ok to be sad and to miss you and to cry. It's ok to have my feelings as long as I use those feelings to live my life like you would want me to. I can't just be sad. How can I share you with the world if all I am is sad?
You were-- you are--my sunshine. My life needs to be full of sunshine so that when people meet me they see joy, and when they see joy, they see you. And when they ask why I use Dora band aids or why I wear pink with yellow or why I see the rainbow in the clouds, I can tell them that my little best friend taught me about sunshine. You were a great teacher. (And we both know you were smarter than me-- duh.)
So, thank you. I promise to keep my heart open to more of your messages.
Ever since Belen asked me to write this eulogy, I’ve been trying to find the words to describe Ylaria. It’s an impossible task. Words don’t exist for all that Ylaria is and for all that she means to me and to each one of us.
I have tried to put Ylaria into words a number of times before, but never quite felt like I did her justice. In the three and half years that I have known her, I could think of only one response that comes close enough: Ylaria is magic, pure magic. She is the sunshine and the stars and everything that is beautiful in this world. Her smile could light up the room; her eyes would sparkle when she laughed and you were convinced that there was nothing better than that very moment—sharing in her joy. Her happiness would stay with you for days and make you smile at the memory of it.
Ylaria lived with more life and loved with more heart in her 5 years than most people could in a 100 year old lifetime. She never complained of her illness or felt sorry for herself. She expected to be treated like everybody else and refused to accept anything less. She found joy in the simplest things. She made every moment count. The world is a better place because Ylaria was here. She is a beautiful, magical soul.
I have a hard time describing Ylaria in the past tense because it would suggest she isn’t here anymore and I can’t accept that because it simply isn’t true.
Ylaria is everywhere.
She’s in all of the pinks and all of the yellows. She is in the Dora band aids I can’t seem to stop buying (and, yes, using). She’s in the songs I listen to-- until the very end. She is in the Build-a-Bear store and all of the New York City streets I’ve walked with her on my mind. She’s in some of my most cherished moments.
Ylaria is with me always.
She is with me when I press an elevator button and when I see a mail order card in a magazine. She is with me when I walk into the Ronald McDonald House and the blood donor room at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Ylaria is with me when I remember what it feels like to rub her head or hold her hand or give a her hug. And, Ylaria is with me in every moment that I want to share with her. Wherever I am, Ylaria is too. I carry her with me into the world. Every day. Ylaria lives in my heart.
Belen and Gino, thank you so much for sharing your beautiful angel with me. Ylaria was blessed with parents who love her deeply and did everything in their power to care for her. My life was made richer by knowing Ylaria and by knowing you. Through the years you have become my family; there are simply no words for that.
Belen and Yoly, you are the best sisters that Ylaria could have ever asked for. You cuddled with her and played with her. You made her laugh when she needed it most. You love Ylaria like only sisters can. She is as much a part of you now as she ever was. And you are still a part of her; the bond you share can never be broken.
Ylaria, I could never thank you enough for all that you’ve given me. You are one of my best friends and one of my greatest teachers. You made my days better by being a part of them and you made me a better person by being my friend. You showed me how to laugh and love and live every moment. You changed my life for the better the day you came into it. My life will never be the same without you here. I will do everything I can to share your spirit with everyone I meet. This world still needs your magic. I will love you forever and always, sunshine.
Ok, it's been a really long time since I have posted a real "Olivia update" (as some keep reminding me).
I can't write a long update but here's some highlights in brief:
I flew out to California last week to see Ylaria. After a week of crying many tears and being unable to sleep, it was so good to see her. We enjoyed some nice moments together. She is simply remarkable and flying across the country and back in 3 days was nothing at all for the smiles and hugs I got.
To keep my spirits up on the long plane ride (no small task), I took a Celia Rivenbark with me. I highly recommend this author because she is FUNNY. And the book actually made me laugh out loud. (This was in between crying spurts, so you can only imagine just how funny she is. So here's my advice: if you need a lift (or laugh) read some Celia Rivenbark. I guarantee it'll brighten your day, however gloomy it is.
I have volunteered to interview prospective Dartmouth students. I did my first interview earlier this week and it made me so jealous. I want to go back to Dartmouth! (Total nerd, I know.)