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We’ve had to miss you for two years today, my sweet Alicia. Two years ago, we had to come to terms with the reality of never hearing your incredible laugh again, never seeing that smile light up a room again, never being able to share another quiet moment together.

Last year, all I could think about was your passing. Cancer. Your absence. How closely our paths might follow. Honestly, my brain could hardly give you the space you deserved. I was scared to think about you because of what other paths it might take me down in thinking about my own future.

This year, all I can think about is your life and your presence in my heart always. I’m so glad I named Emmie after you because I think of her every time I say her name. Our favorite song, Down in the Valley, has the lyric “Roses love sunshine/Violets love dew/Angels in heaven/Know I love you.” I used to have to try hard not to cry during that verse, thinking that soon I would be joining you and Grandma Emmi with the angels, but now it makes me smile, because I know you are the angel and you know how much I love my sweet girl.

I do wish Emmie could have known you for real, though. I wish I could have introduced her to you, so she could know her amazing Aunt Alicia. You could have told her about great books to read, or regaled her with tales of your incredible life in the big city. You would have inspired her with your career in journalism and fascinating stories; our visits to you in The City would have dazzled her and made her fall in love with San Francisco, just as they did to me.

Stories seem like cold comfort (although I know you would have reminded me that stories can be magic). How can I make your stories magical enough for Emmie to feel like she knew you? That she could feel your hugs, soft and strong, always full of love? And what would you have said to her? That I can never recreate, no matter how much magic I use.

Selfishly, I miss you too. I want to call you to tell you about the incredible journey of this past year. (We just bought a house, Leashy! A real, grown-up house! With a guest bedroom so you could come visit and everything). I want to commiserate with you about the bastard that is cancer. I want compare our experiences on interferon, ask you about the trade-off we made in not doing low-dose interferon for a year, but getting to truly enjoy breastfeeding and this astonishing first year of Emmie’s life. Just how awful was it to be on interferon for so long? I want to hear your boy stories, and hear about what new insights you’ve had about… well, everything. Life. Love. Movies. You name it.

Amazingly, as I was writing this, tears falling, I looked over at the candle I had lit, and instantly all my sadness was banished. I could feel your love warming me and telling me not to be sad. I’ll try, Leashy, but I miss you. You will always be my MOH.

*PS I would like you to note that this is one of a very few entries I have actually taken the time to review. I caught several typos and errors. I also changed the formatting of the title of the song from what I always do to what I remembered is correct. If nothing else, I can pass along your legacy of correct punctuation and grammar to Emmie (!!!).