Dear Kristen,

I miss you.

You died on November eighth, 2011. It was very sudden and completely unexpected. It turned a normal day… a normal life, into one that no longer seemed so normal. To say that you left this earth far too soon would be more than an understatement. You were twenty-four years young and only beginning to blossom into the powerful and passionate woman you were destined to become.

But sadly, that destiny was meant for the next life.

They thought it was a heart attack. Turned out to be encephalitis. A phone call one day. Another one the next. One to seal the fate the next. I guess I knew that you were gone before they actually told me, but I guess I was just hoping I was wrong. The news was broken to me in a McDonald's parking lot, or maybe it was a Wendy's. I don't really remember now. It doesn't matter.

The next few days were so strange. Hell. Random moments were filled with total sadness, others with unsettling calm. Wrote about it on Facebook. I don't know why.

Yes, I do.

Got a phone call from Zach when I was home alone. Immediately broke down in tears when the call was done. Got a voicemail from Dad. Said he loved me and missed me. Should have called him back. Wished I knew how to grieve better back then.

I didn't go to your funeral… I am ashamed that I didn't.

You were cremated and shared between Dad, Lee, and your mother. They each got a piece of you, your ashes… I never did.

Your organs were donated, just as you wanted. Your kidneys were used the night you died. You saved two lives, Sissy. I'm registered now too.

I am typing and typing and typing and typing some more, all the while trying and trying and trying to make sense of it all, even now so many years later. All I know is this: I love you and I miss you, Sissy. We didn't see each other too often. Whenever we did, it was something special. The memories of you are engraved on my heart forever. I still don't have a copy of your poetry book. I don't even have a most recent picture of you. Hope to get one soon, somehow. Don't even know who to ask anymore. Lee is gone. Corey is off to whatever his life has become. I don't have a relationship with your mom. Maybe I'll try your old best friend again. I don't know.

But, I'll always have the picture of Christmas, 1996. I was a Baby. You were little. It was our first Christmas. And we were together. And you were touching me. I wish that touch could have lasted forever. I can't wait to feel it again.

Neither Dad nor I could ever "fix" Lee. Daddy was never the same after you left. We could never find Jonathan. And I never did know what the situation was with Randy, and frankly, I don't think it really matters much anymore.

You were… are my sister. And I feel like I barely knew you. I did know this though: you were an angel in the flesh. A deep carer of people and animals. You would have been the greatest nurse. You made an impact on JMU far before I got there. I still keep the Breeze article with the news of your passing.

I love you with all my heart Kristen, and I hope that God has plans for us to reunite. Someday. When the time is right. Until then, I'll keep looking back on Christmas 1996, and all the great ones that followed. Take care, my beautiful sister.

Love, Your Brother,

Tyler