6 Years

For some reason this past month has been a really hard one for so many of my friends. I have heard far too many stories of loss, emotional shields ever present in day-to-day lives. One too many shocking stories, and it really isn’t fair.

Today it has been 6 years since I lost my sister and best friend. Something so hard to believe because I still dream of her almost every day, leading the charge in whatever adventure I am pursuing. I don’t know why I decided it was time to write this, I think it has to do with the fact that I have met so many wonderful people over these past six years and I find it so hard to believe they never knew Suds. Most of all I’m definitely not here to give any advice; everyone deals with loss in their own way, however hard it may be.

The one thing that I do know is that Suds definitely isn’t gone. She has been, and is with me every step of the way. I’ll be on the dock at a big fancy wakeboard event somewhere in the world, shaking in my boots from nerves and there she is, standing beside me saying “Hey princess, don’t you have this contest thing down yet? It’s only been 15 years. Remember when I stole Victor’s shorts and competed in them at Bushes? Ya, I fell because my legs where short and his stupid flare pants kept getting caught in my bindings. You have short-shorts on, so suck it up.”

I see here everywhere I go. In the sunsets over the lake when we are out in the boat, in the trees when I drop in on an untouched line, when I’m so angry at someone over something so meaningless there she is, laughing at me for getting caught up in silly petty drama.

Suds was so smart beyond her years. She did so many things in her short life that continue to surprise me every day, things I am still learning as I mature through life.   She was the most generous person, always thinking about others over herself. She made hand painted bandannas for all the winners at one of the very first snowboard rail jams I ever organized, just because she wanted to help. She made me a graduation video, interviewed all my closest friends while I was away, and showed it to me at a surprise birthday she had planned with my friends. She had ability far greater than anyone I have ever met to get along with everyone she met. She was that girl who lit up the room when she entered. She made instant friends with the unlikeliest of people, never judging, always seeing past their masks to the amazing people that they are.

Last year around this time I was standing on a start deck in front of a frozen pool of ice, it was night with a crowd of people and a famous photographer that wanted me to wakeboard through a burning ring of fire. Crazy right?? Who seriously jumps through a ring of fire into freezing cold water in mid November??

Here is the take away. In that split second I saw my sister, grinning ear to ear, offering me a shot of whisky to warm me up and she said “ Sis, light it up.”

It’s for her that I live for the moment, because she so often did. Spontaneous Suds experienced so much in her short life because she was never afraid to just go for it. She would book that plane ticket, try the food no one else would try, dive right into every crazy situation thrown at her.

So what have I really learned over these past 6 years? Well the first is that the unexpected waves of sorrow that hit me when I am reminded of the loss of my sister never leave, they just become waves with longer set times (thank you Debbie Poole for the reference). The second is that I do not take any second of my life for granted. I have spent my time traveling the world, experiencing all it has to offer. But more importantly in that time I have learned to appreciate and truly value all the friendships that have made so many positive impacts on my life. It’s you – the people I have spent that time with that have made my life and all those experiences so unforgettable, and thank you all so much for that.

I would love to say that after six years it gets easier. It definitely does not. The only difference is that the tears of anger and resentment I felt at first are long gone; they have been washed away, still with tears, but tears that come with a smile whenever I think of her, and the amazing person that she was. Love you stubby, you will never cease to amaze me.

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One response to “6 Years

  1. This is beautiful, Erika. Although I only met your sister a few times, all the amazing qualities you describe in her are the ones I saw in you when we were teammates at Carleton. The world needs more people like your family.

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