Yes, that clean-shaven skinny blond-guy is me. It’s my favorite photo I have of me and my sister Carissa.
Eight years ago today, I was holding my sister’s head as she took her last gasping breath. Other family members surrounded her. The end came so quickly for Carissa and with no warning. She was at the hospital, expected to make a full recovery from a strange pneumonia for which they were treating her when she went from happy and conversing to suddenly flatlining. Doctors revived her but 12 or so hours later her organs had all officially shut down and we had to say goodbye long before we were ready.
As if wet fingers were snuffing out a candle wick, an incredible light simply vanished from this world in a single moment. In a single final breath.
She said it constantly. “You’re my favorite.” She said it to everyone she loved (which included thousands of people over her lifetime).
She said it… And she meant it every time.
She would sometimes giggle just a little bit when she said it. She almost always had this little Carissa-smirk as she looked you dead in the eyes. “You’re my favorite.”
My sister had a way of hunting you down when life was kicking you hard and making sure you knew that you were her favorite. She had a way of seeing past fake smiles and false fronts. She somehow always knew right when it needed to be heard.
“You’re my favorite.”
Carissa had Down Syndrome, yet had far fewer disabilities than most of us with our troubled minds, our constant worry, and our mental struggles. She had fewer disabilities than most of us with our fears of not being enough, our need to somehow have an edge up on others, and our strange need to somehow be morally superior in some way or another.
She just… loved. Everyone.
She had no care for what anyone thought or felt about her and her differences. She rarely took her next actions based on what was best for her, but always what would make others feel genuinely loved and important. The genuine smiles and laughs she got in return were her happiness.
I miss that girl. I miss her light. I miss her example. I miss the way she brought everyone together. I miss the way she got people dancing. I miss her jokes. I miss her stubbornness. I miss her flaws. I miss her brightness. I miss her special needs friends. I miss all of it.
She died on April 13th, 2008. Ever since that day, my family has declared April 13th “You’re My Favorite Day,” and this year I want to share that with all of you and encourage you to participate and watch what kind of awesomeness is born from it.
To celebrate the day with us, simply tell those you care most about today that they are your favorite. That’s all. Just send them a text, tell them in person, email them, call them, and simply say, “you’re my favorite.” Leave it at that. If they ask why, tell them you wanted them to know.
“You’re my favorite.” It’s a single phrase that can turn sadness into happiness, gloom into hope, feelings of worthlessness into feelings of importance, and frowns into smiles. Carissa taught me that. Again… and again… and again.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing