December 30th, 2018, 4:45am is when she left us.
But, December 29th was the last time I stroked her forehead, the last time I held her hand, the last time I heard her voice, the last time I cuddled up next to her as I would so often do in our youth, the last night I saw her alive.
Two years have passed, and I can still recount every single moment of December 29th, 2018, from the moment I awoke on that warm winter’s morning in Southern California, until 12:32am, December 30th when I made the phone call to my mom, telling her she had better hurry and get to the hospital, where I had spent hours next to my big sister, watching her labored breathing, massaging her bony legs, and laying with her when she needed a warm body next to her, for five hours straight, willingly, heartbreakingly, but oh the preciousness of those hours.
The last text from Marnie came to me at 7:16pm on December 29th with the words “Come here.” She wanted me there. What a tremendous honor that, as she was fading, she remembered he little sister, who looked up to her and loved her so much, and she wanted me there.
December 29th was when I rushed over to the hospital, ran to her room only to enter to one of the most heartbreaking sights I’d ever beheld; a mother saying goodbye to her three young children and her father, a husband who could do nothing by comfort their kids and hold them as they sobbed. I remember standing in the corner, breathing in this scene, knowing it would be a sight that would be with me, clear as day, until the day I leave this earth, a sight I would never wish upon my worst enemy.
December 29th was the last time I bent down, kissed her forehead, and told her, “I love you so much, Marn. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
That didn’t happen. At 4:45am on December 30th, 2018, I was awoken by our oldest sister, Jessica, who stood over my bed and said the words, “MB, she’s gone. Marnie’s gone.”
Shock. Denial. Anger. Fear. Sadness, a sadness so brutal, so gut wrenching that I can still feel my heart sink even as I write these words.
Yet, as traumatic as the memories of December 29th may be, I cherish each second of that day, because it was the day my life changed. It was on that day that I made a vow to myself to live each and every moment in the present, to treat each and every person I came into contact with with grace and love, to promise myself that I would strive to conduct myself with the utmost integrity, and to forgive myself for the future times I would surely fail, because downfalls are a part of being human.
The Christmas season will never be the same for our family, as it was the season we saw our dear sister, daughter, mother and wife endure her greatest suffering. New Years will never be the same as it was the day before New Years Eve that she went to be with the Lord. It hurts. That fact will always be.
But we have also found comfort in the joys of each other. We have learned the value of what being a family truly means. We have truly come to understand the power of giving. We have remembered the value of maintaining relationships with those we love.
December 29th and December 30th, and many of the days that followed were some of the darkest of my life, which taught us the most beautiful lessons of what it means to live a full, meaningful life…
“When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll, Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, IT IS WELL, IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL.”