Toba…you know sometimes I still say your name trying to remember everything it contains. You were such a force of beauty your heart still remains-it pushes me every single day. When I want to lose my temper-I remember your face. When I see someone else in pain-you nudge me gently to show them more grace.

When I speak and teach and try to lead I feel you walk beside me carefully showing me the way. I see you every day. I see you when I question myself, when I remember those days-those days we would argue and laugh and shower each other with praise-those moments that were sprinkled with anger and words of pain.

But we both knew we didn’t mean it-it showed on our face-we both knew we came first wherever we strayed-we both knew we could trust each other never to leave us in dismay. I trusted you and you trusted me. I protected you and you protected me. I remember when you would see me upset it would cause you so much pain-your brows would furrow in consternation trying to figure out how to ease the shame-I remember how I instinctively grabbed you when we were confronted with fear-I protected you as best as I could as we aged each year.

I watched you closely in fear that you might disappear-I monitored those sure-footed steps that grew stronger each year. It is because of those moments we shared, those moments of true happiness I can still see your face each year-I can still see your gaze focused so clearly destiny wrapped around each stare. It is because of those precious moments when we whispered secrets when no one else could hear I can still make out your voice calling me gently reminding me to keep pushing forward-to resist fear.

You have changed my life in so many ways. Even I did not have the power to shift my perspective so powerfully in how I approached each day. But you were the secret to my gain-you see, when you left so suddenly I was forced to change. I was forced to adapt to the river of pain. It was violent and it courses even now through my veins. It was unpredictable in its force because it ruptured from the core of my heart where you stay. And though it has smoothed over in time and in space, it still becomes restless when winter comes near-when February is at the door my heart begins to pulse with pain-it reminds me what was lost but it also reminds me what was gained.

Through your life I understood the importance of family-I hearkened to the call of destiny. I just wish it didn’t cost me so much to finally see your face-to see who you were truly and what you represented and learn to love you in so many ways-I know you love me and I know you know I love you but I wish I had more time to show you how much and how deep that love still remains. But God has His reasons and through 3 long years I have learned to face the pain. It still paralyzes me but it also pushes me forward to keep moving for you and for us-for all you stood for and for what still remains to be done.

You are the biggest inspiration behind who I am-the reason I am moving into the woman I am becoming-you are the one that showed me what it means to love. Through bearing the honor to call you brother and friend, I learned that love really has no end. I learned that the heart is strong when love is cemented at its core-I learned that love still speaks even when death tries to silence its words.

I learned that time is fickle and we should not argue with those we love. Toba I learned to follow my dreams-

remember those ones you always spoke of?

I learned to see through your eyes of vision-to see purpose when confronted with pain-to choose to forgive even when the hurt still remains. I learned to listen to the sound of brokenness hidden inside a gaze-I gained an impulse for the presence of pain.

You taught me so much about myself through your ways. You’ve shaped me in so many ways I don’t think our innocent bond expected to birth such a powerful experience when we were made-to be brother and sister-to walk in close companion together-to witness each other’s thoughts, each other’s fears, to understand when the other was facing a scare.

This bond is so strong it still speaks even though you are not here. Where others no longer see you I can still feel you. Where others no longer hear you, I can still feel your response-you encourage me to push ahead to keep moving strong. Your visions remain-those treasured images you shared with me during those days, they have taken form in many unpredictable ways-I don’t think either of us anticipated how so much would change-but you know what?

I wouldn’t change a single second we spent sharing secrets that have become treasured pearls hidden deep inside our bond-blood still speaks even when death calls. Blood remains forever it is not moved by tears, fears or the pressure to move on. Blood reminds me of our bond. Blood reminds me that family remains one-death cannot take what has been given by God.

I miss you more and more as time moves on-you won’t believe what has begun since you have been gone. You taught me how to write, you taught me how to speak, you taught me how to embrace my fears and live in my destiny-you taught me all this even after you were gone-you showed me that love is truly a force that cannot be overcome. You showed me how to live in each moment through your love for life I embraced my call. Your compassion for others now marks each word I share with those that have known loss.

And when I see your face-when I finally have finished this assignment the LORD has placed to be birthed through my being and to achieve all the marvelous things He is still doing through me-when I finally get the honor to hold you close again-I would be filled with such indescribable joy on that day-I would be filled with such happiness to see you again-and we would never be parted again.

But until then Toba, my sweet, sweet brother and friend who I love so dearly till beyond the end-until then-sleep well and sleep soundly-your sister will always defend those who have suffered at the hands of death’s cruel finger and faced fear-I will and am learning the meaning of justice in all its sharp contours and edges and in each step I take towards that platform of the law and my growth in faith I see you cheering me along and smiling proudly as I become the woman you saw before I was positioned to witness her being born.

You have taught me to walk strong-I love you forever and always-sleep well my dear friend-I will remain strong for our family-the dream lives on-you are still here with me-even though to others you may be gone. You remain a light that forces me to focus on what still remains to be done.