I have nine voicemails from Jackie saved on my phone, and on Sunday I listened to all of them, over and over. The last one was from my birthday six weeks ago. I needed to hear her voice.

On Monday I scrolled through all the text messages I have from Jackie. Months and months of messages. Thousands of messages. Some serious, some jokes, some things so insider that even Mike wouldn’t be able to understand what we were talking about. It was as if we had our own secret language.

On Tuesday I looked at the emails I had from Jackie. There actually weren’t that many…Jackie wasn’t big on email. Whenever I sent her an email she’d call me with her response. I used to say, “If I’d wanted to talk to you, I’d have called!” But I was always happy to talk to her.

On Wednesday I read the words Jackie wrote in her online journal after Maddie died. Her pain jumped off the screen. She ached for Maddie, and she hurt for me and Mike. She wanted to take our burden away, and she wanted to give us back Maddie. I feel the same way now, about her. I would do anything to give Jackie back to her family.

I read these words by Jackie and my breath caught in my throat:

“In the absence of our deepest desires, we do what we can. We put on our “strong” face (regardless of how weak we feel inside) and we live each day as fully as we can.”

I don’t know how I’m going to put on a strong face. I feel permanently stuck on my “having an emotional breakdown” face. But I’m going to try to live each day to the fullest. Jackie would tell me to get up off my duff and quit feeling sorry for myself. She wanted to live, and it’s so unfair that she isn’t. So I will live to honor her, and Maddie. I will do my best to make Annie proud. I will try new things and go see what she couldn’t, and when I close my eyes at the end of each day I hope I’ll hear her voice say, “Good work, Cha Cha. I love you to the moon and back (times infinity).”