For Alana: What My Sister’s Death Taught Me About Life

selective focus photography of red perching bird
Photo by Enrique Grisales on

Today is my deceased baby sister’s birthday. She would have been 27-years-old. I can still see her tiny body, jet black, curly hair, and beautiful slanted eyes. I still remember her sweet smell of baby powder. I will never forget her. As I often reflect from a child’s perspective, I too was a baby, just 3-years-old when she passed. I remember the deafening silence when she was no longer with us. The overwhelming sadness that filled our lives is one of my first memories. On days like this and honestly quite often, I think about who she would have been. I’ll never know, but I am positive that her short life and somber death were not in vain. 

Last year, my mom and I replaced a sad memory with something fun and new by getting matching bow tattoos on our ankles to symbolize Alana. It was my mother’s first tattoo, and she took it like a gangster. On the other hand, I, not so much. We laughed, reminisced, and went out to eat. It was the first time that my sister’s birthday was not sad. 

Over the last year, I’ve learned to slow down and appreciate life. In the mornings, I sit outside and drink coffee on our patio. For months, I’ve noticed a cardinal that would flutter all around. Some say cardinals are a visiting loved one who has passed on. It comforts me to think that this cardinal in the backyard is a reminder from heaven of such a sweet soul, gone too soon. Throughout my life, I’ve pondered why she was sent to us and why she was taken. Though I can never be sure, as a woman, I now know that for me, her life and death taught me that life is short and never to be taken for granted. In an instant, it could all be gone! Cherish those you love while you have them because one day, God will need them back.

May you continue to rest in eternal peace! Happy Heavenly Birthday, Alana Nicole! I’ll see you in the morning!