I was the little girl watching everything you did.
The one that still remembers the day Daddy called her up to the pulpit during his talk,
To tell the poem about Melinda Mae and her giant whale.
I shook so hard, I almost fainted.
I wanted to be up there, to make him proud.
But it scared me more than I knew it would.
I looked out in the audience
And I saw your face,
A lifeline imprinted in my mind.
My older cousin, smiling at me.
I don't remember looking away,
not until I sped through that final word,
and the monstrous whale was eaten*.
There was a distance, a pulpit I watched you from for all those years.
I'll tell you now,
When I was depressed in high school.
It was your name that gave me hope when my parents told me I wasn't alone.
You'd been there.
And somehow you were still amazingly you.
I was the long legged pre-teen sitting in the back seat
When Daddy told how he set you up on date with a boy you liked.
And I was the acne covered teenager in your backyard
The day you and that same boy came back from the temple.
An outdoor reception around the pool, cool lights of night,
You madly in love, family everywhere like a sea of comfort.
I brought my own dark haired boy to your parents backyard.
Fresh from the temple, we stood by the outdoor pool in the cool night,
Madly in love, family everywhere, you sweeping up to tell me congratulations.
When I returned home later,
A babe in my arms, a husband at my side,
Age didn't matter any more.
Everywhere I looked, I saw more and more
that we were not so different.
Like bits of our lives where mirrors of each other.
I sometimes felt like angels from the other side
were nudging me toward you, again and again.
Until at a relief society retreat, struggling with depression I thought I'd shook,
You told me that you still hit that dark place, too.
"I know what I need to do, now," you told me, "I need to hold my girls."
Like flash forward, I'm in another place
and winter ate at my joy with cold fingers.
I prayed and prayed for help.
Your voice, like the face of comfort over the pulpit
returning to me.
I scooped my babies up. I held them close.
And life straightened out again.
*Melinda Mae by Shel Silverstein