Although I write words for a living, I don’t have the words to describe how I feel about my sister. I’ll try my best. I loved her and she was a part of me, and she always will be.
Ally was there from my very first days, and she decided to be the best big sister ever – and as we all know, Ally stuck to her word.
I learned how to be in this world from my sister Allison. She was upright in her sense of right and wrong, and judged herself by the same high standards that she held for others.
From Ally, I learned how to be good (even if I have not always heeded the lesson). I learned that it is more important to be kind and humble than rich or famous. Ally’s role models were the brave yet humble women of history, the ones who helped behind the scenes – Mother Teresa, Saint Bernadette, Our Lady. My role model was Ally, who served as a kind of summary of all the virtues for me, a shortcut to God.
Debbie and Dave have talked about what an inspiration she has been to everyone who met her, and what a bossy little sister she could be. As we grew up and Ally got sicker, in some ways it seemed that our roles reversed. But on an important emotional level, Ally was (and will always be) my big sister. You see, I knew she was always there, a blanket of goodwill, shielding me from the greater sufferings of the world – with Ally as my big sister, I could take love for granted – what a privilege – I would never know the absence of someone willing to fight in my corner until their last breath.
Indeed it was from Ally that I learned how to love. Love big, love wide, arms open to hug the world.
From Ally, I learned how to dance in shopping centres, how to be silly in hospital wards, how to laugh loud in the wrong parts of movies and not care what people think, and then discover that they are laughing with you.
Ally, you have left a gaping hole in my life where the rainbow used to be. But I promise to colour my world brightly, a riot of colours, a veritable burst of sunshine on every day no matter how grey.
Whenever I or others visited or called Ally, she would always ask, ‘Have you been behaving?’ Ally, I promise you that the answer will always be a resounding, ‘No.’
Ally-boot, this is our lament, this is our lovesong, this is our leavetaking. On behalf of all of us here today, thank you for spending your time here on Earth with us, helping us to be our better selves, showing us how to delight in the now, reminding us to think of others first, embodying Christ in everything you did, right to the end.
Wherever you go next, I know that you will share your love and radiance; you will pepper the ground with flowers wherever you walk; music will emanate from the air around you; and all will be dancing with you to your songs. You can smile now, if you want. The boat is all set to take you across calm waters now honey. Go with our blessing and our love, Ally.