Even with caller ID, nothing ever really prepares you for a call like that.
When I answered, I didn’t even say hello. Knowing full well who it was, smiling into the phone I said instead, “When are you coming to see me?”
“I wish that’s why I was calling. I have horrible news.”
“What?” I said, instantly sobering. My mind went totally blank. I couldn’t even think of what might put that tone in her voice.
When I lived in Colorado Sophie, Eliza, Bo and Laura were my closest neighbors and dearest friends. When I moved from Colorado they were the ones that I went back to.
I remember once sitting on the floor of their dining room. Sophie (and Eliza) must have been about four years old. Sophia was sitting on my lap when she looked up at me and said, “I have loved you a very long time.”
“I love you too sweetie,” I said smiling down at her stroking her red locks.
“No,” she said turning in my lap to look intently into my eyes. “I said, I have loved you for a very long time.”
Softly now, this time I said, “I know, honey. I’ve loved you too.” She was only four. But I knew what she meant. Our love went beyond that bound of a few tiny years.
For me, it was like that with Sophie. Even after I moved away from Colorado and I rarely saw her, the connection was strong.
Once I hadn’t seen her for whole year. I got out of the car with her mother to pick her up at school. As her mother went inside I saw Sophie through the fence, playing in the yard. At the same time, she spotted me. Without a word we started walking toward each other. Meeting at the fence I crouched down to her level. Her tiny hand moved through the chain link—and ever so softly she reached out and stroked my cheek. Cupping my chin gently in her palm, she looked into my eyes.
“Hi sweetie.” I said softly, because that’s all that was needed. Hello old friend.
It’s hard to compute a loss like this. It’s hard to compute what this means to a mother, a father, and a twin. Even from a great distance, your mind grapples with what it will feel like for them—to be forever denied the day-to-day interaction with that lovely light. You understand the way they bumped and collided with each other and how even in the midst of family togetherness and the ups and downs of life, the interactions refracted and created more light. And now something is missing—an intersection is gone. The heart grows heavy and pained thinking about it. Words fail.
That’s the way it is with death and with people. You may or may not see them in your life on a day-to-day basis. But they touch you. Even without you knowing it, they become a part of you. And you feel it when they are gone.
Even if you’re not there—even if you are not close—we are all affected by a death like this. It makes you hold your own children tighter—and even if just for a week or so, not care that they are throwing food all over the floor, or otherwise causing you large amounts of work. It makes you realize, even if just for a moment, that life truly is fleeting. But it’s shocking too. One minute a person is here. The next, there’s a bear, and a creek, and no breathing. It shakes you every time.
Sophie was a soulful girl. She had strong bonds in this world, an unshakable one with her twin sister— and family, but with others too. But more than most, she loved. When she saw you she would stroke your hands and tell you about loving. Without guise or veil, she would instruct you— in tangible ways— about how it was done. Loving is about being gentle with each other. Loving is about kind words and soft hands, and gently cupped faces. It’s about forgiveness and laughter. It’s about togetherness.
I like to think that Sophie would want her death to do that too. In big and small ways she touched lives. But even if you didn’t know her, let her life touch yours. She would be pleased for it to be that way. So do it. Do it for Sophie. Do it for your children. And do it for each other. Because none of us know how long we get in this precious world. And guaranteed it’s going to shock us again the next time we find out how fleeting it is. So in the mean time, follow Sophia’s example. Speak gently to each other, stroke each other’s hands, cup faces gently, dance wildly, tell jokes, smile a lot. Love one another. It’s time.
This piece was also published in the Boulder Daily Camera.
Aimée Cartier is an author and psychic who lives in Washington. You can find out more about her on her website: www.spreadingblessings.com.