“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I will never forget the look in my mother's eyes when she walked through the front door of our house, moments before she told me that my older sister, 14 years old, had died.

It was then, at 11 years old, that I learned what it feels like to have a broken heart. I learned that it actually physically hurts; that it shows in your eyes, even when you're trying to cover it up; that some days it feels better, and other days worse. I learned that with time it begins to imperceptibly heal, even if it will never heal completely.

My stitched-up, mostly-mended heart is my sister's legacy and her gift. I carry it with me — to the office, to a dinner party, to the corner store — approaching each person I meet with the assumption that not everything has been, or will be, easy. I offer this gift of empathy to others who are seeking a way forward. With the optimism of a mostly-mended heart, I freely give of the gift my sister gave me.

— Allison Kean