This is a tragic ending to a life that was once so vital, vibrant, ambitious and independent. As anyone who was either close to Paula or to Mom knows, the last several years of Paula's life were a virtual roller coaster - ups and downs - not too many highs but a lot of lows. It seems the roller coaster never stopped at the station long enough for Paula to feel comfortable enough to get off.

Many, many people are to be commended and applauded for their unconditional love and support given to Paula, and we, as her family, want to express our gratitude.

Paula was 23 months younger than I, and in the hierarchy of the Harper kids, it was only logical that she and I share a room growing up. "The Little Girls' Room" it was dubbed - the room at the top of the stairs. "Little girls, come down and eat" - "Little girls, time for bed." Even after growing up and moving away from home, upon our return to Abilene for Christmas or other special occasions, our room was still "the little girls' room."

Upon reflecting these past few days on some of my childhood memories with Paula, you all know I'd be lying if I said they were all great memories. We had some doozer knock-down, drag-out fights, as most siblings do, but one thing I'll remember fondly is the hours upon hours that Paula and I would spend in our room playing Barbies. Mom somehow made sure we had all the latest the Barbie world had to offer: the Barbie dream house, the pink convertible dream car, a wardrobe to die for and, of course, Ken, Midge and Skipper - the whole clan. We'd change their clothes a hundred times and never get tired of making up stories to act out with our extended Barbie family.

But as we grew up, I realized how different from each other these two sisters were who shared a room for 15 years. She was into fashion and being pretty - I wasn't. I was into academics, band, twirling - she wasn't. She was into the outdoors, nature, living in the country, soaking up sunshine and digging in the dirt planting flowers. I was into the hustle and bustle of the big city and always being on the go - becoming as my family nicknamed me - the overachiever. But I have begun to reevaluate my hustle-bustle lifestyle and am realizing that maybe I want to be more like Paula, with the ability to slow down and enjoy our beautiful world and what it has to offer - other than skyscrapers and traffic jams. For helping me come to that realization - thank you, Paula.

I came across some words I'd like to share that seem so pertinent to our being here today to say goodbye to Paula. Think of these words as if Paula were saying them herself.

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