She died twenty-four years ago. It doesn't matter why anymore.
All that matters is that she existed.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Sort of.
I remember everything, though the order of what happened is greatly skewed.
It doesn't matter anymore.
In Judaism, we mark the date of death with a yahrtzeit. And every year it sneaks up on me. It's just now, it doesn't hurt as much. But the repercussions, still reverberate through my life like waves against the sand. It never stops, they still control, and they linger.
But even that, doesn't matter anymore.
I breathe, I live, I cry, I laugh, not because Stephanie lived and died. I do all these things for me because I still breathe and I still live, and I still cry and I still laugh.
I have no pedestal for Stephanie, no memorial wall filled with pictures to hang over, envelope, and cloud our lives. But she is always there in my memory and always with a tear and disbelief on how the years have passed. Twenty-four years to be exact.
I don't wish for things to be different anymore. Wishing for something that can't and won't happen is wasted energy. Wasted time. While I never wanted what happened to happen, it did. Yeah, it would have been nice if twins could have grown up together, lived and laughed and loved together, but the time for wishing has passed.
But every year, all throughout the year, I think of her. Her fingers, her toes, her nurses, her medical equipment. She still lives within us who remember and I'm grateful for the lessons I learned when I lived that life that I hadn't wanted or asked for.
And in that, I remember there's still more life to live. Stephanie will always be mine, and in my heart, she'll safely be kept.
Stephanie Paige Steines April 24, 1998 - March 30, 1999