It has been 66 whole days without you. The day that your very best friend broke the news to me – her brokenhearted parents sitting with us crying – was quite possibly the scariest day of my life. For a moment I forgot to breathe. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest when her mom, in tears, told me she needed to tell me something and her dad told me to sit down. “What the heck are they about to tell me?” were my only thoughts. When your dear best friend spoke the words I never expected to hear, I don’t even think I believed them at first. The world was spinning. This could not be true. But I could see it in her eyes that it was so real, and my heart broke for her because you two were like sisters. You are like sisters even now.
The days immediately following your accident are a blur. Your funeral feels like it was a dream – a really terrible dream. The kind you wake up from and are so angry that your subconscious conjured up such nonsense. Your burial was an even darker dream. I’m not entirely sure how I got through the last few weeks of camp, but I know I couldn’t have done it without our good, mighty God.
Hearing songs about God’s goodness and faithfulness was hard for a while. Not because I doubted God was these things, but because the fact that these things are true and yet you’re still gone felt a little bit like a slap to the face. Though I tried not to, I felt a little betrayed by the Lord. “God is so faithful” is a phrase I’ve heard when people make it out of car accidents, when death is escaped. That didn’t happen this time. And yet, God’s faithfulness and goodness never change, and now you are experiencing that goodness in a way I couldn’t even fathom.
Tat, do you remember when you came to my sister’s funeral? I had forgotten until just a few weeks ago. Can you even believe that? I forgot that you came to support me in the hardest time of my life. When I saw you walk in I was so surprised but also not surprised at all, because that was so like you. Never in a million years could I imagine the next funeral I would attend would be yours, not even two years later. How horrendous.
Tatiana, it took me a long time to call you “Tat”. I have this weird thing with nicknames – when I don’t know someone well enough, I feel like I’m not worthy enough to call them by a nickname. I felt like “Tat” was a name that the people you loved knew you by. Who knew that club consisted of literally everyone because you were so loving and compassionate? As our friendship evolved, so did the nicknames, and by the end of summer 2015 you had more nicknames than almost anyone I know. I guess that means I knew you loved me.
Visiting you and your sweet family for 6 weeks in Peru following that summer was one of the highlights of my entire life. I cannot thank you enough for that trip. Some of my all time favorite memories are from our time in Peru. God is so good and kind for giving us those 6 weeks together.
Now I’m back in Peru with your family and it feels so unfair that you’re not.
Your little jungle town is as lovely as ever, but somehow it’s a tint less colorful and a touch less magical.
The streets of Puerto Maldonado are special to me but I almost feel angry and betrayed by them because they remind me of you. It’s not their fault you’re gone, but it’s so heartbreaking to know I’ll never walk them with you again. You were at least 99% of the magic, Tat.
I so badly want to bake cheesecake with you like we did the last time around. I want to play 10,000 more games of Dutch Blitz that you will entirely destroy me in. I want to sit in our room with Aliza and Brianna and sing Taylor Swift over and over and over again. I want to sit in the kitchen and have serious talks about the past and the future, and what God is doing. (If it meant I could spend one more day with you, I’d even eat another slug *insert vomiting noise here*).
I want to tell you one more time that your friendship is so special to me. Being part of your life was such a gift. I want to tell you that when we became close friends, I felt like I learned what it meant to be a friend all over again.
The last time we were in Peru together I asked you 100 times a day how to say something in Spanish. I was never afraid that you’d get annoyed because you were so kind and so encouraging even when I completely butchered the Spanish language. You told me I was “actually so good” 🙄 but we both know you’re just too sweet to ever tell me I’m not.
About 100 times a day I want to ask you how to say something in Spanish, and it stings so bad that I cant.
I’ve been thinking about what you would do and say if you were here with us. When something funny happens, I think about how you would throw your head back and laughed until you cried.
The day before yesterday was supposed to be your wedding day. When you asked me to be your bridesmaid my heart shrieked with excitement. What an honor.
I met your fiance at your funeral.
(That might be the worst sentence ever)
It turns out he’s perfect for you, and you should see the way he talks about you. Yesterday we sent you balloon messages and he filled up the entire space of two white balloons with words of affection for you. I can’t wait to see your love story continue in heaven someday.
Tat, it has been a hard few months, and something tells me the hard months are far from over. I was thinking about how if you could actually read this letter I might make it less sad, but I have since decided that I would want you to know how much your absence breaks me. I would want you to know that your existence is so significant to me and when that existence shifted into heaven my heart could barely handle it. You are a BIG deal to me, Tat Blackburn. Your life was such a light in this world, and everything feels different without you. I could go on and on all day about you – someday we’ll look back on all our great memories together and create more then we ever could have here on earth. I cannot wait to see you again, Pink Panther.
Love you forever and ever,
Dani (White Wonder)
P.S when I get to heaven we will participate in #Rest20-infinity together 😂