You are my little sister.

But I don't remember you. I see in pictures that your hair was red; that I hung around and poked my fingers at you while you rested your head in grandpa's crook.

I remember only certain moments after you were gone. When the crying and anguish and the burial of your ashes where the towering pine now stands.

I like to think that we would have climbed trees like that together. I'd give you a boost like a good older brother and we'd climb as far as we could until the limbs shivered beneath our adventurous fervor.

But unlike the sporty journeys of your brothers and sister, maybe you would have enjoyed dance and theater. Maybe you would have discovered a penchant for drawing and watercolors. Perhaps you liked to play the piano too.

You were going to be a determined creative. And you would have excelled in school. Unlike me, you had reasons for wanting to push yourself. You found no purpose in defying the aggressive pull and push of your father. You were self-determined. You were your own person from the start.

When you decided that your time with the piano or the dance or the art was over, you enjoyed our explorations together.

We'd scuff up our knees, ride our bicycles until the sun melted into the earth, peer curiously at crawdads through shallow, drought-affected creek waters. I think you would've been my partner-in-adventure.

And if you had a chance to grow up, reach your teenage years, I would pretend as though I didn't enjoy looking sternly at interested boys. I would pretend that I wasn't protecting you, and you'd smile knowing me all too well.

Hannah and me

Hannah and me

Mom told me once about how you died. Pneumonia, she said. At least that's what the doctor says, mom told me once. I remember thinking, quite expectedly so, mom doesn't deserve this, after all she's been through, and those sorts of socially accessible retorts.

Yes, mom didn't deserve that. But neither did you. Or me. Or your brothers. Or your sister. Or your dad. Or your bandmates. Or your art teachers. Or your drama instructors. Or anyone.

You see, life is replete with random happenstance. Sometimes it's shitty. Sometimes it's joyful. Sometimes it's heartbreaking. Sometimes it's beautiful. But it's always life: random and heartbreaking and joyful and shitty and will always be.

It's why we keep climbing and exploring and pursuing the things that matter and mean something and evoke the emotions and thoughts we deem of most value in this only world of ours.

For Hannah, the dancer and painter and explorer and adventurer and achiever and sister.