I learned on Friday that my younger sister is dying. In truth her poor health has been devouring her for years so it’s come as no surprise that her end is near. But it’s not until a doctor begins to talk to you about months or even weeks that the horrible reality of someone’s death hits hard. It takes your breath away; it grabs you in the gut and twists you up with a physical pain knowing that one more person who you love is going away.
My sister wasn’t an easy person to live with. She was very stubborn and she flaunted rules and regulations. Life for her was about fun. Yesterday I was talking to my oldest son and I told him in my view his aunt was the penultimate Peter Pan. He totally agreed that was a great description for her–Peter Pan. And until rheumatoid arthritis robbed her of her future she embraced that childish view of life completely and life was totally about play, having fun and living on the edge.
In addition to the the RA that entered her life in her late twenties–one other thing happened that prompted her to take the biggest step to grow up and change her life style: the birth of her only child Michael. Nothing before so moved her to embrace stability, try and follow the rules. From that point on everything was about Michael and she tried harder than she ever tried in her life to create a supportive loving home for him.
I’m going to Florida to see my sister in two weeks. It will very likely be the last time I will talk to her in person. I’m thinking a lot right now what I want to say to her. My list is sure to grow but so far here’s a few things:
- Even though you never smiled very well in your school pictures your mechanical grin was endearing and signaled a lot about the way you would face life when it got tough—tenacious, firm resolution, you just have to grin and bear what comes along.
- You believed in right and wrong. Sometimes the way you would define what was right and wrong seemed convoluted but your sense of accountability and the checks and balances in life was a compass for you.
- Your faith has grown strong as your body has grown weaker. You are seeing beyond the struggles of the “now” and holding firm to your belief in the “here after” and it brings me comfort to know that is holding you firm right now.
- Long after daddy was unable to do much for us as a “father” as he aged–his visits to see you was something that made him feel like he was still taking care of his daughters. You were able to give daddy something that Barb and I couldn’t. Thank you for making him be so needed.
- I have no idea how you’ve been able to see past the narrow confines of the room that has been your home for so many years–and to view the outside world through one window. I would never be able to accept that in my own life–it speaks to a strength of character and will much stronger than mine.
You’re my sister and soon you will be gone. What more is there to say….just…you’re my sister and I love you.