It has been a few weeks since you left us. You were only 42. I know I made lots of cougar jokes to you when you turned 40, but you left us all way too early. To say that we all miss you would be a gross understatement. You had over 1,200 people at your funeral. I don’t think I know that many people, much less can I claim that many as my acquaintances and friends. I have a few very, very close friends that all left their busy lives to be with me after you passed. It was exactly what I needed. And I was flattered they did because it reinforced to me how special you were to all of us.
Sarah and I are doing okay. We are busy with the midgets. They keep us entertained. But since you passed on, I can’t help but to be sad when I look at them. You were Kohl’s godmother and loved him so well. One of your last posts on Facebook was about our blog and how we inspire you. I think you know how much you inspired me, but more on that later.
I’m happy you got to meet Amelia. We brought her to the hospital on a whim the night you passed away. It turned out to be a good move. She eased the mood a little bit. She made your kids smile. She made us all smile. She had no clue what was going on, and she is too young to fully appreciate you right now. But I can promise you one thing. She will know her Aunt Allison intimately.
You were always a perpetual worrier like mom. I’m sure you’re worried about your peeps. Mom and Dad are struggling for sure. No parent should ever have to bury their child. I feel for them as I have fallen in love with my own children, and I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose them. But we Chrestmans are a tight-knit group thanks a lot to you. You always loved when we all got together as a family. I love it too, and I think we’re going to try and spend as much time together now as possible both because we enjoy it, and also because it’s the way you would have wanted it.
Your kids are doing fine. They are some strong little people. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about them at first. Tripp became extra attached to you ever since you were diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. Ellie is at the age where she needs a mom the most. But they are both strong like you. And they are going to be fine.
Mark is a bit overwhelmed, but he’s doing okay. No one should ever have to go through what he has been through. He has lost a little brother, a mother and now a loving wife all before the age of 40. Beneath the veneer of ridiculous bama bangs and pastel pleated pants, there is a really good dude. You chose a good one, Eye-shy. He’s going to take great care of your kids, and we’re all going to take care of him.
Allison, I can’t tell you how much I miss you. One of the best compliments I have ever gotten is when someone close to the family told me that I was like a male version of you. I was flattered by that, but it was inaccurate. I could never pretend to be as bad ass as you were. Sure we had our differences at times. When I was a toddler, I allegedly tore up your Cindi Lauper cassette tape. About 32 years later, I upset you when I talked relentless shit about how LSU had beaten your beloved Ole Miss rebels. You did not talk to me for days until I sent you a picture that said “Even Jesus Hates LSU.” Thankfully that opened back up our lines of communication.
I’m so thankful for the relationship we had. We were eight years apart, but we were so close. You taught me many things. When I was little, you taught me how to spell our last name in the form of a catchy jingle. When I was an awkward teenager, you taught me how not to be a cheese dick with girls (sorry, I didn’t heed your advice). In your last few years, you taught me something that we always heard growing up, but I never could quite wrap my head around. That thing is grace.
There is a line in a Pearl Jam song called “Sirens” that reminds me of you. Eddie Vedder puts it much more eloquently than I ever could when he says, “if I think too much, I can get overwhelmed by the grace by which we live our lives with death over our shoulders.”
Well, in your final years, Allison, you taught me grace. You were diagnosed with stage four breast cancer in 2012, just months after Kohl was born. That was basically a death sentence. No one ever said it out loud, but I think the elephant in the room was screaming that you may not have that much time left with us. You had death over your shoulders at every turn, but at no point were you overwhelmed.
It was a roller coaster ride. I was honored to donate my “magical platelets” to help you for a while. Whenever we got bad news about whatever the latest scan showed, I wasn’t sure how to approach you or what to say to you. But you always made it easy. You were strong and matter of fact about the whole thing. You just kept marching on with your life and didn’t dwell on it. You continued to be a wonderful wife to your husband and an amazing mother to your children. You were so genuine, and you were so special. As the minister said at your funeral, you were just Allison.
I have never been particularly religious. We all grew up going to church and Sunday school, but my thoughts on Christianity are and always have been complicated. But I do believe a few things. I believe that this is not the end. And that’s why I am writing to you now. I believe that in whatever realm you find yourself now, you are reading this and you understand how much we all love you and how much all of our hearts ache for you. I believe that you now know the answers to the age-old questions about why things are the way they are.
Why you were taken from us so early? Why did mom and dad have to lose their first-born child? Why did Tripp and Ellie have to lose their mom? Why did Mark have to lose his wife? Why did Kohl and Amelia have to lose their Aunt Allison? Why did Mary Beth and I have lose our big sis? Why did Sarah have to lose her close friend and sister-in-law? Why did your countless friends have to lose their special buddy? But you know the answer to all these things.
Some day we all will too. I will now repeat what I said as I kissed your coffin just before you were lowered into the Earth. I love you, Eye-shy, and I’ll see you later.
I love you,
Your Baby Brother
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