June 23rd, 2017 was the day that changed my life forever. It was the day I found out my 18 year old baby sister, Mallory, had passed away. Mallory struggled with addiction, but not to a specific substance. She was more addicted to escaping reality because her reality was too much for her to bare more times than not. She struggled with bipolar disorder, depression and PTSD. Her struggles were many, but I know she wouldn’t want me announcing to the world the details of her specific struggles and what all she was a victim to, so I will leave it at that out of respect of her. But addiction wasn’t took her. All it took was mixing an anxiety pill with a pain killer and she was gone… forever. The ground shook beneath me. My world stopped spinning. I’ll never forget that day or the phone call that came while doing a client’s hair. I was called to the office and everyone was crying. I picked up the phone and all my mom said was “She’s gone baby… Mallory’s gone.” I fell to the ground and screamed and cried hysterically, louder than I ever had before. And then I went numb. I thought, “There is no way this is real. God wouldn’t let this happen to her. Not my little sister.” I felt all the joy drain out of me in that very instant. I was in a fog with the heaviest heart. I was broken. I never thought I would out live my baby sister. She was just so young.
I did Mallory’s hair and makeup for her funeral. This is something I never thought I would do. At least not on my baby sister. I gave the speech at her service and I couldn’t even tell you what I said. I was in a trance. I don’t remember the three months after she left this earth. It too is all a blur. I struggled to find meaning in life. I struggled to find balance and purpose. When someone you love so much leaves without telling you goodbye, you carry that with you. Grief is a dark cloud that follows you wherever you go. I didn’t want to wash my hair. I didn’t want to shower. I didn’t want to eat or do anything to take care of myself because to be honest with you, I didn’t want to be here anymore. On the days that I wanted to disappear and end things, I tried to remember how loved I am. My boyfriend would sit with me for days while I didn’t speak a word and hadn’t bathed or brushed my teeth. We would sit in silence and he would just love me. He did everything I didn’t know I needed him to do. He didn’t even know what I needed, nobody did. Through those dark days I learned that I had to lean on those around me that loved me. I was weak, but they were the strength I needed to get through those dark, dark days.
I made it through those first few dark, blurry months. I think those days being a blur was a blessing in disguise. A gift from God so that I don’t have to recall and relive those days, but instead the happier times come to mind. A year and a half has passed since Mallory left this earth and at times it still feels like I’m in slow motion. I’ve accepted that my life will never be the same. I’ve lost friends because nobody wants to hang out with the “sad” girl. I was the girl who would have a few drinks and then bawl hysterically over my broken heart. I’ve always been the funny one who tries to bring humor and light to bad situations, but some things in life are just too serious and take away all your funny, all your happy, and all your personality. It’s been a struggle, but I continue to push through each day for Mallory.
Mallory was a firecracker. She lived in the moment, and lived each day like it was her last, but unfortunately that day came sooner than any of us expected. I remember my friends going to the cemetery to leave flowers at Mallory’s site when I wasn’t strong enough. I didn’t want to see it because that meant that this nightmare was real. But that’s the thing, Mallory was so loved… SO loved. That girl had more friends than I’ll ever dream of having. Her site at the cemetery is the brightest, most colorful, flower filled site there. I wish she could see how many people love her. If she had known that while she was alive, I think maybe she wouldn’t have felt so alone. Each day I try to live a life that Mallory would be proud of. I’m doing things she didn’t get to do and trying to be all the things that I loved about her.
A year and a half later, I’ve accepted that my life will never be the same. My family’s lives are forever changed. Anyone who knew and loved her is missing a piece of them and always will be. I still have my days, and that’s okay. But for every bad day, allow something else in to fill you up a little. I’ll always miss my little sister, but she wouldn’t want me to miss out on this beautiful life because of that. I’ll live for her until I have the energy to live for me, and I know I’ll get there. Grief is a journey that everyone travels differently. People need to understand that and know that it is absolutely okay not to be okay. There is no right or wrong way to heal, there’s no time limit and even when it passes, you still won’t be the same. But being changed is different than being sad. Losing Mallory has taught me to love harder and live with more passion. Call your grandma, hug your brother, check on your friends. You never know when it’s your time to go Home.