My sister Grace died of cancer on March 25, 2018.
I wasn't at the hospital that afternoon and although my parents told me that Grace was not in pain when she died, her death was the most painful thing I think I will ever experience in my life. I sure hope so anyway.
She was my very best friend and I miss her every minute of every day.
And now, she's gone.
But I have learned some things since Grace left us.
I have learned that her death will never feel less unfair and wrong, but it has stopped feeling so unbelievable.
I have learned how to stop imagining Grace getting older. She died when she was 14, the day before her 15th birthday. Last week, I turned 15. Now I am officially older than my older sister.
I have learned that I don't think my brain or heart will ever get used to that fact.
I have participated in the Atlanta Swim Across America open water event for the past 2 years. Each year, I have worn one of Grace’s favorite swimsuits. In fact, it is the exact suit that she chose to wear when she was cremated. But this year, I will need to buy a new swimsuit. That swimsuit of Grace’s is now too small for me. I outgrew it. That’s what happens, I guess, when you outlive your older sister.
I might have outgrown her favorite swimsuit, but I will never outgrow my love for Grace.
I will never outgrow missing her.
I will never outgrow all of my memories of us together.
I will never outgrow how much I admired her.
I will never outgrow our secret stories and inside jokes.
I will never outgrow wishing we were still a family of four.
I will never outgrow the closeness I feel to her when I swim in Lake Lanier at the Swim Across America event.
And that’s why I am swimming again this year.
Why do I swim?
It’s simple really. I swim because I miss and love Grace. I will never outgrow that.