Her absence is like the sky

“Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.”
C.S. Lewis

Yesterday, we could say Tat was alive one year ago. Today, we can’t say that. I can hear our hearts breaking all over again.

Somehow it has been one whole year since she was last breathing in this world. The earth has orbited once again around the sun — and she was not here for any of it. Her wedding. Her birthday. Any ordinary Tuesday in between. 

Beautiful, bright-eyed, vibrant Tat — I miss her more than words can say. She always told me I was a writer, and yet there are not enough words in any language to explain the impact her absence keeps having. 

I still can’t believe she is gone. It feels as though I’m waiting for her to come home from a long trip, like those years ago when I waited for her to come back to Canada from Peru. I had a countdown on my phone — and it feels sort of like that, except there’s no date I can hold onto. I try to trick myself into believing that soon she will return, and we will laugh, and this whole cruel year will be over. It’s as if my mind isn’t quite convinced she’s truly gone. But then something happens and it hits me afresh. 

It might be a blog post she wrote, or her photo in my car, or a nightmare where I wake up crying. I read it or see it or have it, and then her death happens again.

She dies all over again, every single day. Every single time I remember. 

I was at a restaurant a few weeks ago in Prince Edward County and the actress on Gossip Girl who plays Vanessa was there. The actress said hi to me in the bathroom. Immediately, I went to text Tat. I couldn’t wait to tell her — she was going to freak out! I could picture the emojis she would send me, texting in ALL CAPS to ensure I understood her excitement. 

But before I pulled my phone from my bag, I remembered. I couldn’t text Tat about seeing Vanessa from Gossip Girl in a restaurant bathroom. I couldn’t text Tat again. 

The first time I met Tat, I knew there was something special about her. I’m not romanticizing her — I truly mean it. I’ve told her this before and I’ve told many others. I saw her, and something inside of me perked up. It was the Holy Spirit — kindly, gently, nudging me toward this kind 17-year-old girl. We were at camp. The first thing I noticed about her was how much I loved her name: Tat. It was simple and unique. One syllable, containing so much meaning. Names are important to me — but especially then, because I was in the middle of writing a novel. I remember thinking her name was perfect for a book. 

One night, I felt God prodding me to pour into Tat. That was the phrase I kept hearing: pour into her. A bit Christianese, but I took it seriously. I told God if He wanted me to truly love Tat — to encourage her, to pour into her, to pray for her, to check in on her, to care about her dreams and her family and her academics and her love life — then I would. But I asked God to give me a sign — if Tat asked me to pray for her that evening, then I would encourage her relentlessly. 

That night, Tat came up to me at campfire and said, “I feel like God wants you to pray for me.” 

Tears sprang into my eyes. I prayed for her — and I kept praying for years after that. 

I believed in Tat with a ferocity unlike one I’ve experienced before. I kindly forced her to send me her writing — she was such a good writer, and I always felt like someday I would hold her book in my hands. I am devastated to never read that book. 

I knew in the core of my being that she was going to do great things — and she did. Somehow, she still is. Her words, her spirit, and her love for people and for Jesus have undone me. She has carved a legacy without even realizing it. If only we could each have a fraction of her spirit. 

I am so grateful to God for the years He gifted me a friendship with Tat. A few nights ago, as I was crying thinking of her, I realized again the honour it was to love and be loved by her. 

I will always remember you, Tat. Your plaid shirt, your brown leather jacket, your long wild hair, your short bob when you chopped it off, your laugh, your voice when you sang Blank Space, your aloe vera plant, your black sandals, your nude heels you wore to church clacking down the hallway, your duct-taped car sitting in my parents driveway, your love of yellow heart emojis, and the way you always, always pointed me right back to Jesus. 

I miss you in a way I can’t comprehend and I wish I never had to write this. I love you, Tat. 

Love Aliza