To Sister, with Love.

The culturally marked, 24-hour time frame where my age increased by a single unit celebration has officially come and gone. I am here +1 year finding myself affected not by the laws and systems that declare me another year progressed in body and mind but rather I feel more deeply… nay, more assuredly ….than ever before that time means nothing more than a way to measure and feel in control when so much of life– of being human– is out of control.

It is not even up for debate that in the timeframe that is ours (a time that has the written word, moving pictures, and goodness…the Internet) Maya Angelou was one of the most courageous, insightful, and powerful humans to live and record thoughts and wisdom. Months after the most tumultuous and difficult (frankly, traumatic) 3.5 years of my life — I have finally begun to understand some of her most famous words:

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya Angelous

Some months back, I began to reach out to people in my life from whom I have siloed… hidden… or simply just not existed within their physical or mental space for months to years. This reconnecting phase has been neither methodical nor haphazard. Rather, I finally understand Maya Angelou’s words and have reached out to reunite (post the hell that is this pandemic and more) with people who left a mark on my very essence.

These people… oh, my…these people. I do not remember beyond how they made me feel. I worked with some. I lunched and sat next to and talked with them daily… Yet I could outline not one topic that was discussed. I could speak on not one feeling or dream or formative life event. For It-Is-Finally-Fall-Pumpkin-Spice-Eve, I could not even tell you the names of their parents or spouses nor their favorite drink or food or author or music or hairstyle or cardigan or…

But I can tell you how they made me feel. Dear god, could I ever tell you how they made me feel.

It’s like that, you know (or maybe you don’t know) when you Get. There.

There. That Place. That time.

You know. , . When you get to the other side of a situation that you tell people about who then respond, “How did you even survive?”

Well. , . ,

Options were Limited. Survival was Paramount. So,


I have started to go to those people who fleet across shadows of memory when your every fiber of being has burned or cried or felt totally exposed. You sit, somewhat raw in knowing who you are and who you are not, and think of these people. Glimpses of moments evoke an onslaught of positive, warm, almost marshmallow-gooey thoughts.

Those people. Those are the people to whom Maya Angelou referred.

Those are the people who make us feel human.

Human. To be human. I never really thought about the art of being human. Sure, mortality and morality and all the As to Ls and Ns to Zs — all those, I’ve contemplated. The Living, the Dying, the Not-Making-The-World-Worst-But-By-Goodness-Working-Hard-To-Make-It-Better moments… absolutely. But to be human? To be someone who has (what is possibly) a forever unknown effect on another? Have you thought of that?

Goodness. I hadn’t. I hadn’t until I remembered a few people who made a difference in my life 11 years ago when I moved to Florida. I remembered very few details and even fewer important aspects of the human, but I remember feeling human with them. I remembered not what they said or did. I remembered how they made me feel.

I used to despise grocery shopping. It stresses me out beyond words. The financial planning, avoiding foods that contain my allergen, planning how hungry I will be for X amount of time and how much I need before it spoils. But a few months back as I was trying to get through my least favorite chore (seriously, I preferred cleaning my bathroom) and was rushing to check-out line, I saw a shopper who clearly needed out faster. I don’t even remember who it was or why I realized I should let them go in front of me in line, but I knew it was something they needed. Something that would make their life better. I had nowhere to go (except to G-E-T-O-U-T), so I let them in front of me. They were so gracious. It cost me maybe three minutes, but it seems to have had a really positive effect on their day. So, ever since, I’ve come to love grocery shopping. There’s no shortage of people trying to rush down the aisle, get in line, etc. I let them go first, I move aside. I’m not in a rush and maybe, just maybe, by putting someone else first they might feel a smidge bit of care in their day that they 100% deserve.

But I didn’t just pick this outward thought process up through accident or some introspective moment. Other people modeled this for me. Other people found those small moments to make me feel human. They Maya-Angelou-quote’ed me. But first and foremost, Sister taught me such kindness and connection through her examples of kindness and care.

Have you thought of that time when you let someone go in front of you in line or opened a door or even let a terrible driver merge onto the highway (universe, please grant me more patience with Florida drivers) and how that might have affected their day and, consequently, their existence?

They will remember how you made them feel.

The culturally marked, 24-hour timeframe where my age increased by a single unit celebration passed in what was the culturally marked “1.5 days ago” timeframe. And a single set of seven days prior to that, my favorite human on the entire planet–nay, in my entire life–had to say goodbye to her favorite cat… her Human.

Survival beyond the time of a loved one and what that loved one makes you feel…Well. this is a pseudo-eulogy to not only being human…., but being Human.

Human (Stevens) was a Felis silvestris catus, which is the scientific name for the domestic/house cat. The closest relative to the species is Felis silvestris lybica or the African Wild Cat. There are XYZ facts about cats and domestic house cats and also name conventions that I could spout at this juncture to prove some legitimacy or foundation or whatever, but I neither want to Google nor care to write about such things. (Open a new tab and search away if thus you choose.)

I tell you this… this thing that matters: Human was a friend. He was a beautiful creature. I loved him and most importantly, my favorite human in the world loved him.

“People will never forget how you made them feel.”

Animals make humans feel so special. Despite being fully capable, many domesticated creatures rely on this. We become their caretakers, and they fill us with a sense of purpose and worthiness that intoxicates and enhances our very being. But this is not about the joy of having a pet or the pain of losing one. This is a letter of deep, immense love to my favorite human on the entire planet who had to say goodbye to her Human.

This is a letter to my sister.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

I will not be forgetting all of the conversations or outings with Sister and myself anytime soon. But this letter series is also not about how my sister makes me feel nor how my sister’s cat made her feel. This letter is about the human that my sister is — her very core and essence –and how this human serves other humans and, coincidentally, Human.