Dear JoJo,

It still doesn’t feel like you’re gone or that you have been for over two years. Maybe it’s because I hear your voice every time I talk to Macy or because your lively spirit and memories are kept alive through Kel and Allie.

Macy and I talk about you constantly. Your daughters all miss you.

Some days we share funny articles that remind us of you and sometimes it’s as simple as telling Macy how much I miss you. Trust me, you have in no way been forgotten.

There are so many little things that spark a conversation about you all the time between us. From your incredible tan and your love for the beach, to the bright orange nail polish you always had on your toes, to the vibrant colors and prints you wore. You were one of a kind in the best way possible.

I still remember when you were diagnosed with cancer. We were in the sixth grade and I was standing in my bathroom when Macy called me balling. It was a lot for me to take in.

Naturally, my 13-year-old instinct was to take her to NorthPark Center to walk around the mall and talk. It’s funny, though, because whenever we have a chance, Macy and I still go walk there just to catch up, and when we do, it never fails that she reminds me of that heartbreaking day.

Cancer sucks. I’m not the first to say it and I won’t be the last. But one thing I can say is that you handled it in the most positive, fun and graceful way possible. You always said you were on “borrowed time,” but we were lucky enough to have you around nearly seven years after you were diagnosed with stage four cancer. You were here to experience Allie’s college graduation, Kel’s wedding, Macy’s bid day and the birth of your grandson, whom I know you absolutely adored. While there are things you are missing and are being missed at, there was so much that we were lucky enough to have you at, to love, joke and laugh.

You, without a doubt, were a mother to me. You loved me, parented me and dealt with Macy and I’s shenanigans just as my own mom did. You were truly remarkable. More than being a motherly figure in my life, you blessed me with a best friend who is a sister to me. Macy has grown so much since you left. But since you left, some days have been lonely and complicated for her. She has become one of the strongest people I know. She handled an unimaginable situation with grace and pushed through it. Her life certainly isn’t one of a normal college kid, but she enjoys it just as you would have wanted her to.

Though I may not be related by blood, I couldn’t be more thankful that I am a part of the family that you created. As we all are growing up and moving into different places in our lives, I love that I still see you so much in memories and traditions that your girls fight to keep alive. From celebrating you on the 4th of July because we all know it was your favorite holiday, to your favorite chair sitting in Kelsey’s living room, your memory is alive within so many. And of course Libby, your prized puppy possession, lives a happy life with Allie just as you would have hoped. It never fails that when I am with your daughters, there is always a conversation that begins with “Remember when mom…” and ends in tears of laughter because that is how they remember you, as someone who brought an abundant amount of joy to their lives and everyone you surrounded.

I wish I could have been around you more towards the end, but I wasn’t able to and that’s okay. You spent the most valuable time with the people you needed to. Thank you for taking care of me in elementary school and junior high. Thank you for being that extra boost Macy and I’s friendship needed every once in awhile. Most of all, thank you for Macy. We have maintained a friendship for 13 years, living together for a summer and strategically planning out day trips just to get some quality catch up time in. You made Macy the woman she is today, and I’d be really lost without my other half.

Thank you for being the most supportive and loving second mom I ever could have asked for.

I can’t wait to see you again.

Photo Credit: Macy McClain