Grief is strange how it can hit you unexpectedly and also be kind of predictable, too. I knew Alisa's birthday would be hard. All week I've been obsessed with her--everything reminds me of her. Every song on the radio seems to be about her, everything she ever gave me (which is a lot!) screams out to me and no matter what the weather is, it reminds me of times spent together. What is my deal?!
One snowy morning last week, I was driving along and Coldplay's Paradise came on. It took me back to a Sunday four years ago. Alisa had just found out that her cancer was stage IV. It was in her bones and liver and she was starting to have pain. She called me as I was getting ready for church and said, "Do you want to skip church and drive up to Paradise with me today?" (Paradise is the small town where we spent out childhood.) Of course I said "yes," because suddenly there wasn't anything else in the world I would rather do.
She picked me up and we had a great drive. It had just snowed and bright sunshine was reflecting everywhere. We talked about many things--her thoughts on dying and what would happen to her kids. I treasure those conversations. Along the drive somewhere, she told me that she had called our brother, Jon, who lives in Idaho, and invited him to meet us. I thought, of course, Paradise is our town. We were the ones old enough to remember it well. But then it came out that she had some ulterior motives for inviting him. She was almost embarrassed to tell me that she was having him bring his camera equipment and was going to have him film her "last run." She wanted to run up a hill that our house faced. She had always wanted to know what was on the other side. And she wanted to make a music video to one of her favorite songs, Paradise.
So that is what we did that day, and it was so fun, such a great memory. A few days later we were at Target and I found her just staring at a big picture of a woman running in the athletic wear department. She couldn't take her eyes off it. "Sonja, look. She's running. Does she even know how lucky she is?" She tried to look at the clothes we came for, but kept looking up at the picture. "I just can't get over this picture. See how she is smiling? It seems like she doesn't have a care in the world."
The good news is that Alisa had many more runs after that day in Paradise. The bad news is that she isn't around to protest me posting this video to the world.
Last night Alisa's husband and her best friend threw a small party in honor of her birthday. My parents couldn't be there but wanted to see pictures, and I'm sure a few of you would love to peek in as well. Alisa and I used to marvel at Stephanie's decorating skills and thoughtful gifts and it was so fun to get a glimpse of what a love for Alisa plus some serious talent can come up with (with a week's notice). We did a balloon launch at the end and I thought about what I wanted to write on my balloon, one sentiment overwhelmed me, "Alisa, I'm so happy you were born."
|I walked in and this is what I saw: her bike with flowers and a copy of Anne of Green Gables in the basket. I was so touched that anyone would love my sister enough to make this kind of effort. Steph! You are a wonder!|
|A peek at the tables and a banner by Stephanie.|
|We all brought a few things that reminded us of Alisa.|
|Me with my sisters and Stephanie.|
|Getting the balloons ready.|