Aside from a couple of picture posts on my personal Facebook, and an email to the wonderful clients who I still owe images to, I've been very quiet since December 18th. I was in finishing up cocktail hour edits from my last Cancûn wedding when my mom called. What I expected to hear was "Just got back from the post office and the ornament you sent is gorgeous! Thank you!". The words that came out of her mouth were completely different and very much unexpected. My sister, the loud, fun-loving special education teacher who dedicated her life to fight just causes, adored her husband, who supported all her nieces and nephews endeavors, who could never pass up a chance to dance... my fabulous sister had been killed by an asshole who couldn't stand the thought of being stuck in traffic.
I was in shock. I'm still in shock.
Although we were complete opposites in every sense of the word, I've never known life without her. She was two years older than me and we experienced the kind of relationship that most sisters do: from love to sibling rivalry, to mutual respect, to love again. Growing up, she was the sweet and quiet counterpart to my wild and rowdy self. While I coasted in school, she had to work hard to achieve good grades. We would fight like cats and dogs until our mom would make us apologize and patch things up with an awkward hug. She took piano lessons for years and she sang like an angel. She wanted to be a physical therapist but once in college, she found her calling in teaching children with special needs. She was an excellent teacher, and a better friend. Everyone loved my sister.
A little over two years ago, she asked me to photograph her wedding. She married the love of her life at the beach near our childhood home and of course I was there to photograph it. She looked gorgeous walking by our mom's side to meet her beloved Jimmy. She couldn't contain her laughter while reciting her vows. She was blissfully happy. I saw her one more time before I returned home. We went out for ice cream on a hot Puerto Rican night. We hugged goodbye. We were supposed to hang out again this coming Spring but now she's no longer with us.
I've lost loved ones before, yet this time feels different. It feels surreal and sudden and so very unfair. Alma was so full of life! They told us that she never even knew she was hit, and I really hope that's true. I prefer to remember her stunning smile and her contagious laughter.
Anyways, I don't have a coherent thought left in my brain. I'm drained, but I'm back home now, with Eric and CJ, and our puppy Teddy. They're doing their best to take care of me, while I do my best not to break down on the daily. I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things, so the three of you still waiting for your wedding images, I'll send those very soon.
Before I close, I want to say a big thank you to the hundreds of people who called/sent messages of support and love. I really appreciate all of you. Lastly, learn to live and love without hesitation. It's what Alma taught me to do, and how I hope to carry her legacy.