I don't have a single memory of playing house with her.
Why pretend-play the daily drudgery of life with dolls and plastic dishes? Instead, we pretended to be spies. Rock stars. Animal trainers. Explorers.
Our Barbies lived the most fabulous lives. No, really. The most. So did our My Little Ponies. And Strawberry Shortcake dolls. And paper dolls. I was so bored when I played these things with anyone else. Only with her did paper dolls and plastic ponies get caught up in international espionage while vacationing in Paris en route to a Mediterranean cruise.
One day she decided she would like to run a radio station. Being eight wasn't going to stop her. So, WRRT was born. At least once a week for an entire summer we would stand outside on my grandmother's porch and sing the greatest hits of 1983 at the top of our lungs. I was worried the neighbors would yell at us for being too loud. She was worried we weren't singing loud enough for them to enjoy it.
From my earliest memories of her, she lived.
No matter what the situation, she was always having more fun than anyone else in the room.
Many of us may day dream about picking up, moving halfway around the world and starting a new life on a new continent. She actually did it.
She didn't need to be given a terminal diagnosis to finally go out and live life. She simply always lived that way. "That sounds fun--I want to do that!" was reason enough to do it.
And as I struggled with the events of my life last year, she sent me a message reminding me that I deserve to live, too. She said, "You're happier than I've seen you since we were kids. The whole family says it. Don't waste your time feeling guilty for choosing happiness. Life is too short for that. Spend your time making your happiness worth the pain."
I'm going to miss her so much.