I met Allie when she was 15. She came with Grandma Sharon to Bryon's 37th birthday party. I was in the backyard busy being his new girlfriend and meeting all of his friends when I saw them pull up. I ran up to the front of the house, introduced myself, and started helping them carry food into the house.
Minutes later we were standing in the kitchen and Allie turned to Grandma and said, "I like her."
I knew immediately that I liked her right back.
A year later when we were married, Allie was the first of my new nieces and nephews to call me Aunt Rachel.
She came to the house often, sometimes to babysit, other times just to hang out with us. On the nights that she babysat, she asked to see my outfit and shoes. She loved fussing over girl stuff and I LOVED having an niece old enough to do that. After we left, Allie played with the kids. She colored with Mabel for hours. She'd sleep over on the couch all the time.
Two Tuesdays ago, Allie died suddenly. She had a massive epileptic seizure in the shower, and fell. And we are all still heartbroken.
The impact of Allie's death is still sending ripples throughout our family. Lessons are being counted as we find new ways to love on our own littles and on our extended family.
As I sat at the photo counter the day after she died printing photos for her funeral, I struggled to see the file names on the computer through tears. It was so difficult to choose which photos to print because all of them were stunning. She was stunning. Was. That was also the day that Bryon and I took Allie's brother and sister bowling. Grief bowling. Blech.
We are all better for having loved her. Her laughter and love was contagious.
I think Mabel said it best: