When Rachel Hoggins’ sister, Christine, died in 2014, she was devastated. She not only lost her twin, but her best friend.
Throughout their whole lives, the two had been inseparable.
“We did everything together, we had the same friends, we spent anytime outside of work shopping or having lunch,” Rachel told Caters News.
And of course, as twins, their shared birthday was a special occasion. They made sure to spend every birthday they could together, even as they grew into adulthood and had families of their own.
“I loved sharing our special day with her and we’d do out for dinner either as couples or with our family,” Rachel added.
“And we’d always open our presents and cards together too.”
But one day the family received crushing news. On her honeymoon, Christine had felt a swelling in her breast.
The doctors soon informed her that she had a rare, aggressive form of breast cancer. She was only 34 when she received the news.
“We were all shocked when she was diagnosed and even more so when she relapsed less than a year later,” Rachel recalled to Caters.
The cancer spread to her bones, and things seemed grim. The entire family was devastated, but no one more than Rachel, who was seeing her closest friend fade away.
“I was distraught when Christine was diagnosed with breast cancer but she took it in her stride, she was so brave.”
But Christine, even in the face of death, took the time to make sure her sister would be okay.
Christine died in 2014. Rachel was heartbroken—but a surprise from the beyond made her feel better.
Shortly after her sister died, Rachel was given a book and a letter. They were from Christine.
It was a memory book. Half of it was filled with memories Christine and Rachel shared together throughout their lives—but the other half was blank, pages left for Rachel to fill in for all the memories left to come.
And attached was a handwritten letter from Christine. Rachel was stunned.
“That’s the type of person she was,” Rachel told Caters.
“Christine wasn’t bothered about herself, she just wanted to make sure we were all OK after she’d gone.”
Rachel was incredibly touched and moved by the selfless gesture her sister had prepared for her.
But she didn’t realize that was only the beginning.
It was August 31st—the twins’ birthday. Rachel was feeling low, missing her sister on their special day.
“We always shared our birthdays so it’s a day that’s always full of tears, I just miss her so much,” she told Caters.
But then, a friend handed her a card—from Christine!
Rachel was shocked to find out that Christine, shortly before her death, had taken the time to write birthday cards for Rachel, to be given to her every year.
They had never spent a birthday apart, and now, in a way, they still wouldn’t.
Rachel was even more stunned to find out the lengths her sister went through—and how many cards she would get. She asked their mutual friend, who agreed to arrange the card deliveries:
“I then asked if I’ll still be getting them when I’m 50 and she nodded,” Rachel told Caters.
“It has been so hard not having her at my side but I’m so lucky that she decided to write the birthday cards in advance.”
For Rachel, it will always be something exciting and meaningful to have on a very difficult day.
“It’s a great comfort knowing I have so many more to look forward to,” she told Caters News. “Even though I don’t enjoy my birthday as much as I used to, I do look forward to receiving her messages.”