I don’t remember exactly what I said at my sister’s memorial service. I remember Pachabel’s Cannon (Note to self: Never play any songs you like at a funeral. You will forever hate that song from that point forward.) I remember sobbing as it played because I just couldn’t believe that song was playing for her, because she was gone. I remember my Aunt Meri coming up with me when it was my turn to speak and that she held my hand the entire time.
I didn’t read what I wrote, I just spoke. And I know part of it was her talking, too. I wanted people to celebrate her. I didn’t want people to cry or feel sad or pain, and I knew that was Jenny coming out in my words.
There was another song playing at her service, that we sang actually. It was “You are my Sunshine.” Jenny loved to laugh, loved to smile, loved being happy. I don’t hate this song. I love it. Sunshines have become a universal symbol for my family as a reminder of her. So when Julian and I were dating and he began calling me “Sunshine,” and then Jenny died right before my wedding, I still had the strength to go on and move forward with life, even if it meant a life without her.
It’s been sad not having her here for the last eleven years. My children don’t know their Aunt Jenny. But my son is strong and happy like her. And before our daughter was born, there wasn’t anything that made us smile more than the idea of what her name should be.
Because of what was endured eleven years ago, I’ve felt that if I could get up in front of hundreds of people and give my sister, my soulmates’s, eulogy, I could do anything, I didn’t write wedding vows, I just winged it. When I ran fundraising events, I just winged it. When I taught my high school groups, I wasn’t ever afraid of competitions. Being there for my sister and speaking for her, from my heart and from hers, was one of the hardest and strongest gifts she ever could have given me. She taught me that I could do anything.
You are my sunshine.