Hey John!!! It's me, Mary, Mar Bear, you know, you’re older, BUT less mature big sister!!!
For the first 6 years of my life, I was the baby of the family and then you came a long and made me a big sister. One of my happiest moments as a child was when mom told us she was having a baby and that baby was you! Even though I was the big sister, it's like you were somehow never notified on the matter, as soon as you could fend for yourself, you started bossing me around and telling me what to do.
I loved being a big sister and holding a little baby brother in my arms. I remember feeding you spaghetti in the highchair and sitting in between you and Abraham in the car and being in charge of holding your bottles in your mouths and talking to you guys so you wouldn't cry. You and Abe couldn't say Mary, so you two would call me Mammy!
One of the nicest things I ever did for you as a toddler was when mom said you couldn't have the nacho tortilla chips because they were too sharp, and you would choke on them. You were so sad; you were crying because you wanted chips so badly. So being the GOOD BIG SISTER that I am, I sacrificially chewed them up for you, but instead of swallowing them, I fed them to you all chewed up. You were so happy you got your chips, you even said thank you to me for doing that. Although as an adult you weren't thankful for my sacrifice when I told you about it, I want you to know, YOUR WELCOME!!!
We have so many fun memories from when you were in the hospital at 16, the afro wig when you lost your hair and the "Noise" machine the youth group ran around the hospital with you entertaining ourselves for hours. Chocolate donut runs in the hospital cafeteria and the time you were craving toast, but no one was in the grill, so I just walked behind the counter and found you a loaf of bread and toasted you the whole loaf! I would do ANYTHING to try and make you laugh, including dancing with you in the hospital room at 1 am!!! When you got released from the hospital, we had become very close and from that time, for the next 6 years, till you got married, you would text me, "Goodnight, I love you!"
There was only one time in my life that I remember you embracing my shopping ways and that was when you were dating Liz and I was THE CHAPERONE!!! You randomly started going to the mall and then you would give me some money so i could go look around and buy myself something...You THOUGHT you had gotten rid of me, BUUUUUUT you underestimated just HOW QUICKELY your sister can blow through $50!!! I was back with multiple shopping bags within the hour.
As adults, I think the thing we did the most together was cook. We loved cooking together, and also competing in the kitchen together over who was the better cook. There was only one time you felt bad about your food being chosen over mine and that was when the guy i liked wouldn't eat my dessert because he only had room for your cheesecake. Your only fault in the kitchen was sometimes being too cheap to buy butter instead of margarine.
It's because of me that you became SO good at making pizza. I remember you made pizza one year for mom's birthday and I told you it was ok buuuuuut to be honest, I don't think pizza is really YOUR THING, stick to cheesecake. When I said those words it's like you said, "challenge accepted" and you proceeded to develop the best New York Style Pizza ever, ensuring to your big sister that CHEESECAKE AND PIZZA were both YOUR THING!!!!
One thing about you John is that even though you bossed me around like a big brother, you also took care of me like a big brother would too. When I had a broken heart, you hugged me and told me you just wanted me to be my happy self again. You were my protector, I remember you tackling the cute cowboy at rawhide when he dared to put his arm around your sister. You super-glued my heart shaped sunglasses back together even though you hated them, just because you loved me. Any time I needed help on my car you were there. You told me I should just come to you for my oil change instead of Jiffy Lube. I remember after you were released from the hospital in 2021, you came home and the very next day fixed my car against the doctor's orders.
Even though I was your big sister, you never told me to grow up or act my age. You just laughed at my crazy antics or just shook your head over my latest Mary Moment. You always loved me, for ME, and bossed me around while doing it!!!
When you became a dad, I went to the hospital and you held your little miracle baby Bethany in your arms and said, "look what the Lord has done."
Giving you the bone marrow transplant in 2021 is honestly one of the coolest things I've ever done. People would say that’s so nice of you to do for your brother and I’d be liiiiike this is nothing, the real sacrifice is the chips I chewed up for him when he was a toddler, seriously, as a little 8-year-old chubby, you have NO IDEA just how hard it was for me to NOT swallow those chips, buuuuuuut I loved my little brother, so I gave, truly that was the biggest sacrifice of my life!!!!
After the transplant, You loved that we shared the same DNA. You loved joking about having 100% female DNA, but keeping your he/him pronouns. We loved joking together that we were the same person now. I loved telling you that there had been a really big improvement on your cooking after the transplant! I was so happy when I came to Justin's baptism, and we were both randomly wearing blue together without planning it! It's like THE DNA was in sync with each other, I felt like wearing blue, SO BLUE WE WORE.
In February, after your surgery with the gallbladder and you were finally on the mend and release from the hospital was in sight, we sat in the room together, You, Lizzy and I, and we planned my 40th birthday trip. I was like, well I was thinking since you're getting better, we could all take a family trip to San Diego and spend the day on the beach together. You were completely on board and began to help me make plans, even though you wouldn't be able to be in the sun for very long. You even found a beach we could go to that had a playground on it for the kids when they tired of the water.
However, things did not go as we had planned. When I walked into that hospital room and saw you, I knew the Leukemia had completely taken over, and the transplant I gave you had failed. I was so sad and disappointed; it was like it meant our jokes and our DNA connection was over too. I confirmed with your nurse, the transplant had failed.
However, she said your DNA was still mine, we still shared that no matter what. Our connection was still intact. Part of me was still in you and knowing even in death, we still shared that brought me joy. Because when you entered into heaven, part of me entered into heaven too.
For my birthday, we planned a trip with sunshine, sandy shores, blue water and rippling waves, but God had a far greater trip planned for us, instead we got a city where there is no need of the of the ocean or sandy seashore, and no need of sunshine, because the glory of God is the light in this city, we got heaven.
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
Now, along with sharing the same DNA, we share the same birthday. My earthly birthday and your heavenly birthday. Every July 18th I’ll be partying in heaven and on earth! You know me John, anything for a little extra partying!
Even though our hearts are breaking, you have reached what we are all striving for. I'm sad for us, but John, I'm so happy for you. I'm NOT missing heaven for anything John. There's no hurt, no offense, no relationship, no heartache, no disappointment, no earthly achievement, that's keeping me from heaven.
For now, I'll keep things going down here in the kitchen without you. Don't worry, I'll do as much of the cooking traditions with your kids and Liz and the family as possible, and I'm sure it won't be long before Tony picks up where his daddy left off and starts bossing Aunt Mary around in the kitchen.
Well you know I can keep going on and on and on, but I guess I'll stop talking so you can get back to cooking for the angels up there. BUT don't get to use to being the best cook in heaven, one of these days I'll BE JOINING YOU THERE, and when I do, the competition is BACK ON bro!!!
John, I love and miss you so much!!!
See you on the other side, where butter is free and calories don't count.