Crystal Graham: A day late, a life cut short

crystal grahamThe last 12 years haven’t been easy for me.

Every day, I wish I could have somehow changed the way one particular night turned out.

I realize that it’s impossible to control every moment of your life, but I wish I had found a way to save my beautiful sister’s life.

Twelve years ago, my twin sister, Christina, took her own life.

Her life wasn’t horrible; in fact, all things considered, it wasn’t bad at all.

I understand now that to her, however, things didn’t seem like they were going to get any better.

We certainly weren’t rich …

There were things she wanted that we couldn’t afford … simple things … like contact lenses, expensive clothes … items that in the grand scheme of things aren’t the most important.

But they were important to her. High school is tough … we’ve all been there.

There’s always been a fine line between those who have money and those who don’t.

We made the best of what we had … and I know my mom worked very hard to give us everything she could in this world.

But to Christina, it wasn’t quite enough.

She didn’t have a boyfriend …

In her teenage years, that shouldn’t have been the most important thing in the world … but it was to her.

Her former boyfriend once threatened to kill her.

The boy she liked only wanted to be friends.

It’s easy to look back now. It’s easy to say that the boyfriends we had in high school weren’t the sort of relationships that would last a lifetime.

It’s hard to know what love is at that young age.

But we’ve all been there, and I’m sure most of us thought we’d marry our young loves.

She had been rejected. Not once. Twice.

For Christina, she had had enough.

She couldn’t see past those troubled relationships.

She couldn’t see that one day she could find true love and a wonderful husband – like I did.

She couldn’t see that one day she could have children of her own – like our sister, Heather.

She couldn’t see how much she was loved – if not by other teen boys, by her family.

I adored her.

I depended on her.

She was my best friend.

She couldn’t see that the boys that caused her so much trouble were selfish.

She couldn’t see that no matter what, things would get better.

She couldn’t see that in only a matter of months, she would have had her driver’s license.

In a few short years, she could go to a technical school or college and pursue her dreams.

She wanted to be a hairstylist.

I wish I could have helped her see those things.

Twelve years ago, I lost my best friend.

I lost my twin sister.

Twelve years later, I still mourn the loss.

I still can’t get over the fact that I lost my twin.

We lost her … my mom, my dad, my sister, my family …

I have a tremendous hole in my life because she is not there.

One that no one can fill.

I believe, without a doubt, that my husband loves me more than anything … I am lucky.

But there is that one little part of me that no one can reach.

It’s a part of me that longs for her.

The part of me that begs for another chance to bring her back.

A part of me that wishes somehow I could change that one night.

I think about her every day.

Every day.

I wonder often, am I still a twin if my sister is no longer here?

When I drive around town, I constantly wonder how different my life would be if she was still in it.

I think how wonderful it would be to have that friend, that friend that I could count on to be there no matter what. And vice versa.

I think about how her last minutes on Earth were so lonely.

I think about our last conversation and wish I could have sensed her pain.

I wish I could have reached out to her.

I wish I could have stopped her.

One gunshot ended her life.

In an instant, her life was over …

In an instant, my life changed forever.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about Christina even more.

My older sister is pregnant for the second time, this time she is expecting a little girl.

It makes me think about the day when my husband and I will have our own beautiful children.

We’re not planning on having children tomorrow or next week, more than likely were still looking at three to five years.

But I know, that like my older sister, one day, my lovely husband and I will bring our own beautiful baby girl into this world.

We’ve decided to name our beautiful daughter Abbey Kristina.

I look forward to the day when my twin’s name will no longer bring tears of sadness, but instead, tears of joy.

Not just to me.

But to everyone that loved her.

And everyone who still loves her today.

UVA Basketball Fans!

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Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25. The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe, and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018 through to the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

Dick Vitale on Team of Destiny: “This is a hoops story you will LOVE! Jerry and Chris capture the sensational and dramatic championship journey by Tony Bennett and his tenacious Cavalier team. UVA was Awesome Baby and so is this book!”

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