© 2008 denise

You Were Named For Her

Dear Reese,

Today is a day that wish I didn’t have to recall with the memories that I do. I want to tell you a little more about your middle name “Michelle”. It wasn’t just an arbitrary name chosen to compliment your first name. You are named in honor of your Aunt Michelle who you won’t meet in this world that you know now. Your aunt, Michelle Anne Fehler, passed away on this date, four years ago at the George Washington University Hospital in Washington D.C. due to complications resulting from chemotherapy treatments for leukemia.


Michelle was only a few years younger than your Momma, and in essence, was also her perfect foil. Where your Momma could (and still) be outgoing and brash, Michelle was remarkably less so, yet always thoughtful and clever. Where your Momma liked to climb trees and catch snakes, Michelle wished for nothing more than to curl up somewhere peaceful with her numerous books. Your Momma can be boastful and loud, Michelle was much more subtle and reserved. A study in contrasts, by any casual observation.

What united us as sisters runs much deeper than just superficial personal preferences. Michelle was a lover of truth, of history, of books, and the study of the social bonds of humanity. She fought against the unjust, and stood up for those who would otherwise be marginalized. She was always brave. When I say “brave”, I’m not just talking like speaking in front of an audience sort of brave, or eating nuts straight out of the bowl at the bar sort of brave, or even parking illegally in New York City kind of brave. This sort of bravery you see only very rarely in the average person, and usually under the most tragic of circumstances. The sort of bravery that involves fighting unfair odds, and usually involves extreme sacrifices of one’s self. The kind of bravery that instills you with awe when you see it happening, but also sorrow for what you know what must happen next. Your Aunt was so much braver than I have ever been, and I am proud to one day tell you her story.

In her short life, she had accomplished so much, lived so much more, and truly owned every moment she had.

For now, it’s still a little too close, a little too near to pour out my heart and our sisterly history into this journal. One day you’ll understand that losing a person like Michelle to a disease that she fought so hard for so long is just too difficult to bear some days. When you see me looking a little lost or sad around these holidays, you’ll know why. And always remember, you were named for her.

Though she’s away from from our reach she’ll never be far from our hearts.

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