Sunday, February 27, 2011

Photo Project Day #29

Day #29: A picture that can always make you smile.

I love this picture. Absolutely love it, and it always makes me smile.

In this picture, I am hugging my cousin/big sister, Sonia. Sonia has always been there for me. Always. When we were younger, we'd play "house" together and she was always my "mom" and I was always her "daughter". After a sleepover, I would cry when she had to go home. Goodbyes have always been hard for me, I guess-- even if I knew they were only for a little while. Sonia was the first person I called when Ylaria relapsed in March of 2009. She let me cry; it's not often you can find someone you can really cry with and still feel safe. Within hours of speaking to her, Sonia called me back to see if we could do something for Ylaria and her family. In less than a day, Sonia, Aly and I had organized a fundraiser. I went from feeling helpless to hopeful. I am so very fortunate to have Sonia in my life. She's always there to give a hug whenever I need it most.

I love hugs. The really strong kind that make you feel so incredibly loved and special and safe and happy. It's the kind of hug I am sharing in this picture. People have told me I give really good hugs. My "Olivia hugs" started years ago, right around the time my brother was diagnosed. I remember one time, shortly before Manny went in for his transplant-- the last hug I ever remember giving him-- Manny was walking through the dining room into the kitchen and I was walking from the kitchen through the dining room. I am not sure why I did it,I don't think I had a reason beyond just wanting to give him a hug, but, I stopped as he was passing me and gave him a huge, long, strong hug. He laughed and hugged me back and said: "You're going to have to hug me really hard for all those times you're going to miss." At the time, we both knew he meant that I wouldn't be seeing him for a long time because he was going in for his bone marrow transplant and I wouldn't be able to visit him for a while. Now, those words have taken on so much more meaning. My brother died shortly after his transplant. I never did get to hug him again. You never realize how much those small moments mean until you lose them entirely. It's been nearly 16 years since Manny died and I would give anything to hug him just one more time.

Now I can only hug him in my dreams. A few years ago, I had such a dream. It was brief, but Manny was there. When I saw him, I ran up to him and hugged him, just like I used to. And, he hugged me back. I can't remember what we said, if we said anything at all, but I remember the hug. And, I remember thinking that despite all of the time that had passed without him living in the world with me, our love was still in the same. It was such a comfort to know, even through just a dream, that death could only take so much. Love (and hugs) were beyond its grasp. I woke up still feeling his hug.

And on days, like today, where I miss him so much the tears come, I remember that dream and that hug, and I feel comforted again.

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