Thirty-five years sometimes feels like thirty-five minutes

Thirty-five years is a really long time.

So how is it that sometimes that span of time only feels like 35 minutes?

It was with great surprise this week that I realized it’s been 35 years since I saw my beloved sister, Nancy. August 6 arrived again, as it has so many times, and I paused yet again to think about her. I think we, in our family, all pretty much have thought about her, in some way, every day that’s passed – but dang it, August 6 just seems to temporarily knock the wind out of us each time it comes around.

She was a beautiful young girl who was full of endless energy, a joyful sense of humor, love of music, propensity for sports and true hope for the future.

She loved wildly colored sneakers, dancing to Aerosmith, playing volleyball, laughing with her friends, wearing beaded necklaces, feeding baby calves, playing with her siblings, baby chickens, eating strawberries straight from the patch and posing like a model for my pretend photoshoots.

She hated baked beans, shucking corn, picking cherries, flies, mice, cold weather, letting the roosters out, digging up potatoes, going into the storm shelter and the color green.

She loved stonewashed denim, posters of Bon Jovi, grilled cheese sandwiches, swimming, fishing, wearing my makeup, writing in her diary, snuggling under the covers, wearing a towel on her head after a bath, hanging clothes on the line, roller skating, performing piano duets with her sisters and sledding.

She hated the stench of getting a perm, putting on Calamine lotion after getting poison ivy, drinking milk, doing dishes, being forced-fed liver and onions, not getting the treat out of the cereal box and even smelling (let alone consuming) lime Jello.

She was a champion story-teller, superstar at remembering song lyrics, expert dancer when Dick Clark’s American Bandstand aired on Saturday mornings and the biggest fan of our dog, Grace.

There are times I still can’t believe she left us so young. In an instant, our lives changed because she exited this earth without any warning. Sometimes I get so angry because she didn’t get the opportunity to grow up, experience all the joys of life, fulfill the vast promise she had inside her. But sometimes I also reluctantly feel resolved, because she also didn’t have to go through all the tough stuff life brings us now and again.

I always said that middle child was Dad’s favorite, so how ironic is it that she was the first of our family to join him in heaven? I don’t think there are coincidences in our lives. I think it is all part of God’s plan, even if we don’t understand it or like it.

I wonder if she knew what a monumental part of our lives she was. I think she did. Because she was and always will be. There are still seven of us Mueller kids; one of us is just somewhere else. And it’s up to us earth kids to make sure she’s never forgotten because so many years ago we made that promise. No more tears today, only an ongoing celebration of God’s sweet creation.

Here we are 35 years later – which sometimes feels like 35 minutes — and she still holds a place in my heart only reserved for her.

She was just that special.

We were blessed to have had her. We really were.



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