And now for something completely different...
This morning my eight-year-old daughter came downstairs for breakfast wearing a “Carmen Young Annual Track Meet” t-shirt, one of the medals she won at that track meet a few years ago1 and her usual gorgeous, morning smile.
She stopped me in my tracks. It wasn’t just the darling little jack-o-lantern grin that gave me pause. You see, Carmen Young is my sister and she died ten years before my daughter was born. And today would have been her 34th birthday.
The logical/scientific part of my brain really doesn’t want to believe in religion or an afterlife. But in my heart, I know that Carmen and my other loved ones are out there, in some form, somewhere.
For me, it boils down to this: when you lose someone you love, it’s a comfort to think they still exist beyond our mortal existence. But when you lose someone so very young (Carmen was 15), you have to believe they go on. It’s the only way I can go on.
And how beautiful is it that Carmen has some cosmic connection with my daughter?
I miss Carmen every day and will for the rest of my life. She was larger than life—vivacious and pretty and smart and passionate. She knew how to find your weaknesses and drive you crazy with them—a talent she possessed from a very early age. (Like, 2? No joke!) She was dramatic and hilarious and loved her family and friends with every molecule of her being. She wanted to be special and be a star, while being just a normal girl doing regular girl stuff. She would have been a professional actress had she grown up. She would have loved my daughter beyond all things.
She loves my daughter beyond all things.
Carmen was a fighter—sweet Jeebus, was she a fighter. She fought for her life and never gave up, and she fought for other people’s lives through her advocacy of organ donation.
So when my daughter comes down in full Carmen regalia, with no clue whatsoever that it’s her never-met aunt’s birth date, I have to cry a little and smile a lot. And I know: she’s still here.
So, in honour of Carmen’s birthday, please sit down with your family this week and discuss organ donation. As she used to say, I promise someone will take good care of your gift.
And you’ll make one tough little Cape Bretoner very proud, wherever she might be...
1. Some days she wears a purple rose or peacock feather in hair, some days she wears a medal around her neck. Yesterday she went on a field trip dressed as an Lebanese immigrant.2 She’s eight. I love it.
2. Which was a bit tough to pull of with the blond hair and blue eyes, but she performed admirably.