My sweet, precious Josephine,

My heart nearly stopped a few weeks ago as I sat trying to calculate how long your little sister has been in orchestra—she is sixteen now, and I know she was nine when you were killed… You played her very first orchestra concert with her! Remember?!! It was the Candlelight Christmas one they do every year.

You girls were so beautiful sitting up on that stage together! I wish I had a photograph. Maya was so very happy to get to be there for the first time, with you by her side!!! How could we have even had an inkling that you would leave us just two short months later?

It took your little sister a long time to come back after that. In fact, I was worried she would never want to play the violin again… but she did. She has been going strong now for quite some time, and I can often hear you playing alongside her if I listen closely. Thank you, my sweet girl, for not abandoning us! We still need you here—probably now more than ever…

Your little cousin just started orchestra a few weeks ago—that is why I was trying to calculate how long it had been since your sister began. That is why my heart nearly stopped—it hit me like a punch to the gut when I suddenly realized it has been nearly seven years ago since you two sat on that stage!!! How is it even possible?!!!

It feels like only yesterday I was dropping you off at the university. You were so very radiant that morning—much like an angel… My brain simply cannot comprehend how much time has passed, or how this horrible nightmare ever happened. Even as I sit here and write out these words, I can still sense that you are so. very. close.—

and yet, somehow, so very, very far away…

And my sweet Julian?!!! I miss him more with each passing day… Remember how worried we were about him, and the conversation we had your last day? He was struggling so hard, but after you left us, he was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING—he was our ROCK!!!! I still cannot even begin to wrap my head around his absence.

This is all just way too much to process…

Your friends do not “check-in” with us like they once did. In fact, it has been well over a year now since I have spoken to any of them. “University friends” are very different from “USMC friends”—Julian’s family keeps very close tabs on us!!! However, I often suspect that, one day, those connections will somehow fade away, too…

I hope they don’t, but life is just that way, sometimes.

Time has actually made this painstaking journey a whole lot harder than I could ever have imagined… Instead of things getting easier, it often feels like each new day is just one more round of torture from not having you guys here. In the wake of your little brother’s death, I momentarily quit grieving for you, as my heart was torn wide-open once again—before it had even really begun heal!!! It is often more than I feel I can handle, but our good Lord is holding all of my broken pieces together—for now, anyways.

Which brings me back to the seven years…

They finally caught up to me, and I do not quite know what to do, or how to proceed… If I could barely breathe before, I am practically suffocating now! When I lay down at night, thoughts of you, my sweet Sugar Bear, and also my tender-hearted Joojoo Bear, flood my mind—inevitably spilling out onto my sad, sad pillow…

Oh, how I would, that we could turn back these relentless clocks…

Instead, I try mightily to divert my ocean of thoughts, and connect with you instead in the here and now… Often, during the wee hours of the morning, as everyone else sleeps, I am quite content to just sit quietly with you both—for hours on end—as my heart and soul connect with yours. I have never felt, or known, such sweet and gentle company! It is the one great gift that God has left me, and I treasure it more than anything else….

I love you guys sooo much!!! Thank you for sticking with me, and reaffirming your love for me daily—I’m gonna do this…

You’ll see!!!

With love, your “little mommi”

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