Happy Birthday, Sister! I Still Miss You.


As many know, I lost my sister a year ago. I’ll be honest, it is hard to talk about it. Not about Daina, she is awesome and I have many stories and memories to tell. I mean it is hard to talk about all of the feels I’ve gone through and am going through from losing her. I’ll warn you, this post is very raw, emotional and may be offensive or seem rude. It’s not meant to be so please try to remember that.

On a Tuesday morning last year I was getting ready for work when Joe called me. He told me to get dressed and meet him at the shop. Of course I nagged until he told me why, I wish I hadn’t. He told me Daina was at the hospital and my dad said to hurry. Honestly, there were times my sister had gone into the ER before over not such major things so I was thinking this was surely no biggie, just another false alarm. False. Daina had a stroke in the nape of her neck and went brain dead within 4 seconds. She was dead upon arrival to the ER. I remember begging the Lord for one his fancy miracles that would bring her back to life. I pledged to have no more children if he’d just give her all of the life my body was ever meant to bear. It was the longest day of my life.

It seems like almost immediately after the next few days and services, life reconvened. It’s true, no matter what, life goes on. The calls and texts checking on you and offering condolences stop all too soon. People go back to work, back to their everyday schedules and rightfully so.  But the truth is, for a few of us, life as we knew it does not go on. A new life starts and you have to learn to live it, fast.

At first was the shock. This was not real. This was not happening. Going through every occasion in your mind thinking ‘she won’t be there’, ‘she won’t be there either’. Going to holidays and events without her seemed like a night she was just at work because there is no way I will never see her again. Having my second child without her here was unthinkable.

Soon after shock the sadness became overwhelming. I’d cry all night in the shower until the septic tank would over fill. Sadness that makes you physically vomit. Where you mope around like a zombie and sleep your day away. Sad beyond description. Joe also brought to my attention that I began to recluse and stay to my self and my kids. I didn’t want to leave the house and the thought of being social was a nightmare.

I don’t think the sadness will ever fully go away, it just made room for an undercover angry girl to live balled inside me. Seriously. Every time I see siblings together, even my own in-laws or cousins, I get angry. Why can they have each other and I can’t have Daina? God forbid they argue or fight, like ALL siblings on earth do, I want to go into a sermon on how lucky they are and how they should cherish each other. Because guess what – the other may not be here tomorrow. That saying we all thought was cliche’. Yeah, that shit happens for real.

When I say ‘I miss you sister’ or ‘I lost my sister’ and someone chimes in with instructions on how to move on or reminds me ‘it is not a loss because she is looking over you‘, please know I’d like to punch you in the face. Yes, I know she is watching down on us. But when a physical being was always around and is now no longer there, that is considered a loss to me. Ok?!? I know many people have dealt with loss but everyone has a different experience. There is no right or wrong, there is only what is best for that person.

This anger also wants to come out when people awkwardly ask how I am. I know it is genuine and you’re doing it from the heart, but know this – it is okay not to ask me. Because let’s be real, you know I am not. But I will never tell you. I will say yes, there will be a long silence that I have to fill with small talk and I am not good at small talk. I just lost my other half. The person I grew up with. The one who knows things I will never talk about aloud. The one with the same DNA. The one who is suppose to be here with me when our parents go to carry on our traditions.

That brings me to the hardest area of all of this – our parents. Obviously I was never an only child. And to be honest, I’ve done it for the past year and it is for the birds. Naturally, our lives became busy with our families but we always leaned on each other to balance out time and the needs of our parents. Now, it is all me. ALL ME. It is overwhelming. I am their sole focus which can be suffocating. But at the same time I do not want to go 2 hours without hearing from them. The mere thought of them going on a vacation or even on an overnight trip without me gives me a panic attack. I literally think I struggle to breathe. I cannot be with out them. When I travel with work I cry myself to sleep in my hotel room knowing how far away I am from them.

The other side of this is an insecurity I’ve grown towards them. I am constantly thinking, “I am enough?” They used to have 2 wonderful kids, now it is just me. Am I living up to what they need? Am I living up to what they wanted in their children? Did I call or text enough tonight? Did I spend enough time there today? Did I buy a good enough gift? You know, because I have to fill the void that once was Daina. If you knew Daina, you knew her personality was larger than life. The pressure is real y’all.

How do I get by on the day to day? God, my husband, my boys and my family – we all just take this new life one day at a time.  Even through all of this sadness and anger, I have many happy times too. Usually when I hear Jase say ‘Tia‘ as he points to her picture or just sitting around sharing memories.  My happiest memory was when Daina was 11 and I was 8. We accepted the Lord to be our savior. We come from a very, VERY close family so doing things of such magnitude didn’t seem the such then, it was like any another thing we would do together. As we got older we confided in and leaned on the Lord more, soon realizing how big the step we made was. Now, living everyday below her, there is not one other thing I am more thankful for in my life than knowing she is with the Lord. That is where I find comfort for my heart, a positive attitude and the smiles I wear.


Today would be her 34th birthday. Me and the babies are going to spend the day with my parents celebrating Daina. That’s how she would have it, so we’ll make this a forever tradition until we are all lucky enough to celebrate in Heaven together.

I love you sister.

Goodnight loves. Goodnight sister.


6 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Sister! I Still Miss You.

  1. Shawna says:

    Thanks for sharing your heart, I hope the act alone brought some healing. Continued prayers as you continue to learn to navigate this life since that day. XOXO

  2. Elaine Bonilla says:

    Jenna, it wasn’t just your words that made me weep throughout this blog entry. It was the feelings, the raw emotions that accompanied each confession of love, loss and faith. For some reason Daina’s death has affected me so deeply that I still can’t think of her without crying. If I had to rate my faith in God and in an eternal life in His presence, I would say that they are without limit and extremely strong Yet, when I think of your sister, my emotions usher me into unavoidable grief. I can’t even visit in your parents’ home, even though I love them unconditionally. I say all of this to let you know that I understand how you, her sister and lifelong pal must feel devastated. Grief is natural. You move ahead 10 steps and suddenly find yourself back at square one. I don’t necessarily believe that our loved ones are watching us from heaven, because being in such a perfect place and in the presence of their Lord and Savior, would probably keep all of them focused on heavenly things. But, I know that they wait for us and will be there to welcome us when our day arrives. What a day that will be when we all worship before the throne together! We may even dance. (And will probably have to whisper, “Hey Daina! No twerking!) I love you, sweet girl. Thank you for your big heart an touching transparency.

  3. Crystal Erario says:

    Jenna, this post hits hard. This is coming from someone who’s husband lost his sister in Sept 2004, two weeks before his college graduation. Coming from a woman who lost a good friend that night, we never got to say goodbye to her while she was still here. Holidays are still, and always be, rough. One day when we have children, that will be rough. There are still days where.my husband will isolate himself, we still grieve. There is no time limit. Just know I keep you and your family in my thoughts, and that seeing your children makes me smile. Daina, even after not seeing her for several years, saw me when I was working at CVS many years ago, and she remembered me! Such a beautiful person, wonderful soul. You are enough for.your family.

  4. Kirsten Burris says:

    LOVE your realness Jenna! Wish I could hug you super tight! Very vulnerable story to share, but I’m sure it will help others who can relate, so I think it’s great you put it out there. I didn’t really know Daina, just knew of her & used to see her at McLane. I knew how close you guys were though & have always loved you. I’ll never forget when I read the news about your sister passing & I just cried at my desk at work b/c my heart broke for you. There are no words that will make you feel better, only time adjusting to life without her will make it a little easier, but you will still miss her until you meet again. Just know people never know what to say or how to handle difficult situations like this (just like they didn’t when I went through my health scare), but they mean well & just want to support you. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself (I’m sure Daina would give you shit for that lol) & know you are always enough & very loved!!! <3

  5. Denny Cottrill says:

    What a wonderful (I’ll call this blog a tribute) for Daina. She would have loved it. And I can hear her say that all these kind thoughts are really the truth. I just have to say this though. Yes we all loved Daina. But when our thoughts revert to you. You are your own individual being. And yes YOU ARE ENOUGH. We wouldn’t expect any more or any less than you being you. That is what we have become to love you being Jenna. Not Daina. I love you.
    Uncle Denny

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