September 19, I texted Leslie and asked her if she could pick up some gum and pop on her way to get me.
I still have that text in my phone, but I don't read it anymore. I've read it twice. Once when I received it on September 19, and once when I was craving something that proved that she was at one time okay.
The morning of September 19, we spent the morning at our best friend, Kristen's house, to get ready for Kristen's wedding. Leslie and I were both bridesmaids. In between getting our hair done, we sat at the kitchen table, snacking on fresh fruit and chatting while I painted my nails bright red to match our dresses. When it was time to head to the Henry Ford Estate, she drove me in her car. We both took a stick of gum from the pack she bought and chatted nervously.
The day was incredible. The weather was beautiful. The ceremony was perfect. Afterwards, we drove home together. She dropped me off at my house, then she went home to get her husband and we met up at Old Chicago for drinks and appetizers. We snapped a quick picture together afterwards on our way to the car.
The reception was fun. She danced, and would tug on my arm and say "Come ON! You are a bridesmaid and you have to dance!" and I'd pull back and say "I don't dance!"
On the ride home, she rode up front with her husband, and I sat behind her and helped her take the bobby pins out of her hair. We joked and said we were like monkeys because of the way I was picking at her hair. I remember one of the last things I said to her was, "Make sure you use lots of conditioner!"
The morning of September 20, she e-mailed me to say I left my phone in her purse, and that she felt hungover, even though we didn't drink much at all the day before. I wrote her back and said to drink some diet coke, because that always made her feel better.
This was our last "normal" interaction. I wish I had known September 19 what I was going to learn on September 20.
I wish I knew that I would be forced to accept a new "normal".
I wish I savored those texts and e-mails, because they would soon stop. That even though my sister would miraculously survive incredible odds, she would stop seeking me out to talk to me.
I wish I had said more to her that day. "More" meaning, "I love you."
I wish I had been more prepared for what was to come. Mentally, physically, emotionally.
I wish someone would have asked my family and I (and of course, Leslie) if we wanted our lives turned upside-down and inside-out.
I wish, I wish, I wish.
Unfortunately, that's not how it goes. Life doesn't pause and wait for you to catch your breath. It keeps moving, whether you want it to or not. And just because you went through one tragedy, there is no guarantee that the bad stuff won't hit you again. And again. And even again.
I have not come to terms with this new reality, not even a tiny bit.