She was beautiful. Not just in a conventional way. It was an inner radiance, almost tangible. She was sunshine that warmed you when she smiled. One of those rare humans who was so real that you couldn't help to look harder at yourself to see how you might look in comparison. And, if you didn't measure up, she didn't judge you, she just encouraged you to do better next time.
She was only fifteen, but she carried the wisdom of an old soul as if it were weightless. She responded to mean spirited questions as if they were the most ridiculous things she'd ever heard. It didn't matter if you thought her choices weren't cool. Because they were, without question, absolutely right.
Sometimes I still drive through that little town and find myself detouring to the back corner of that cemetery just to take a moment and let her know that I still remember. I dust off her headstone and wish I'd remembered to bring flowers. I remember the day I saw her mother there. I tell her of all the lessons she taught me. No one knew or practiced love like she did.
Today would have been her birthday. Today I shed a few tears in remembrance.
Today when I still want to be confused and angry that she wasn't allowed to be a blessing to more people I remember....
when I am kind she blesses others.
When I am honest she blesses others.
When I do what's right she blesses others.
When I strive to be what I knew her to be, I keep her alive.
These are the truest ways to honor her memory and it's something done by all of us fortunate enough to have called her friend.