Gold – Linda Eder

“I wonder if when all is done
Anyone heard my voice
But from the start we have no choice
Our journeys just begin

I’ll never know if I was right
Did I fight hard enough?
When the battles grew too rough
Should I have given in?

But here I stand and swear to you
I did the best that I could do…

I know my voice was just a whisper
But someone may have heard
There were nights the moon above me stirred,
And let me grab a hold
My hands have touched the gold

My heart’s been driven by extremes
Blind with dreams, tight with fear
But still God knows that I was here
And I was so alive

And now I lay the past to rest
For in the end I did my best

You have to live the life you’re given
And never close your eyes
You hold on, and stare into the sky,
And burn against the cold
For any moment, you might find the gold!

And there was joy
Through it all
And I am standing tall

I know my voice was just a whisper
But someone must have heard
There were nights the moon above me stirred,
And let my light take hold
I’d rode across that sky
And once I touched the gold

Here in my own two hands
I once had the gold ”

And now I have it…
You would have been 49 tomorrow…
There are no words. Absolutely no words to say…except, “I love you”


Turn Around…Look At Me

“There is someone watching your footsteps, Turn around, look at me

There was one thing that my sister really, really took great pride in…and that was: The appearance of her feet. And so, she would regularly go for professional pedicures. Although she was a hard worker, this was one indulgence that she always seemed to allow for herself. Manicures? Well yes, she would occasionally have one; but to tell the truth, she could either take ‘em or leave ‘em.

One day, a friend claiming expertise in nail care came into her hospital room and offered to give her a manicure. This friend came in and proceeded to clip her nails; almost pinching the skin several times. Then, to make matters worse, she polished them in a particularly horrendous shade of dull red. Afterwards, my sister took one look at her hands, paused, and said to her friend in a trembling, weak voice, “You’re fired!” As I recall this, I can hardly keep from laughing.

However one would never,ever find her walking out of the door in opened toed shoes without an outrageously shocking hint of color peeking out. Even during the dead of winter, whenever she would take off her boots and thermal socks; you could pretty much count on seeing some dazzling, electric shade of lacquer adorning those toes. I always admired her for this. You see, she had beautiful feet. (Mine, on the other hand, look as if I have been working out in the cornfields all day long.)

“Look at someone (look at someone) Who really loves you, yeah, really loves you”

Prior to being admitted to the hospital, she had her famous toes professionally painted up in a most glorious shade of melon; a sort of luminous, pinkish orange color. As she lay in her hospital bed, with pressure cuffs wrapped around her swollen legs, I would often look at those toes and smile. We would often laugh and talk about how much her feet resembled “little piggies”.

The one thing that I will never forget: Throughout her whole ordeal, the color on those toes remained defiantly vibrant. As she trembled, convulsed, and ached, those fabulous toes continued to shine; a silent testimony as to the strength and humor of the one they were attached to.

On that last day of her life, just before I walked out of the room; and just moments before the crematorium personnel came in, covered her up from head to toe in a dark heavy plaid quilt and took her out on a gurney, I turned around and looked at those toes for one last time.

“Turn around, (turn around), look at me, (look at me,) Understand,understand,”

Still gloriously pink! Still fantabulously shiny!
They sure looked nice. Even in death, the woman was extraordinary!

I Don’t Want the World To See Me

And I don’t want the world to see me, ’cause I don’t think that they’d understand”

Sunday afternoon. July 25. 2010.

Scene: Me: In the sunroom; working on my laptop. Husband: Upstairs.
Son: Laying on the family room floor….napping. Noise level: None, whatsoever.

No one else in the house.

Son: “Hey Mom, why’d you do that?”

Me: “Do what?”

Son: “Bop me upside the head, like this” (He taps his head softly, but firmly as a demonstration)

Me: “I didn’t touch you!”

Son: “Yes, you did!” “Something woke me up”

Me: silence.

“Everything’s meant to be broken”

Only three people in the house. My husband upstairs, me in the sunroom, and my son on the family room floor.

I then remember: My sister used to playfully “bop him upside the head”

“I just want you to know who I am”

Hospital Food

“Just a little something for the pain. Hospital food getting you down?”

Something I recently thought of…

While my sister was in the hospital, she received three meals a day. Actually, they weren’t too bad. Sometimes she would eat. Sometimes she would not. We would pick out the food that she would be willing to eat, and leave the rest for whomever sat with her for the day. (She would usually have an assortment of crackers and desserts left over).

Three times a day, she would also receive a popular liquid food supplement. (What I have failed to mention in this story is that my father also has stage 4 colon cancer). She would drink it every now and then, but more often than not, she would send the unopened cans home with either my husband or myself to take to Daddy.

Sometimes, the food trays would pile up. Breakfast into lunch; and lunch and snacks into dinner…

At the time I did not realize how comforting just seeing those piled up trays could be. I did not realize it until the day those trays stopped coming. One day there was no breakfast tray. No lunch tray. No dinner tray.

Funny. I can not remember the last conversation I had with my sister. The very last thing I remember saying to her was this: “Would you like a spoonful of spaghetti?” She nodded her head, as if to say “Yes”.

“Are you not hearing a word I say?”
“She sounds so different on the phone. I just sink like a stone”

And as I put the spoon to her lips, she seemingly drifted off to sleep. I don’t recall her ever being awake again after that. Without my realizing it at the time, she had begun her final descent into that “long, dark night.” If I knew then what I know now, I would not have let her drift off. I would have chattered on endlessly about any and everything to her. I would have done this…I would have done that…

It was not too long after this episode, that the trays stopped coming.

One day there was no breakfast tray. No lunch tray. No dinner tray.

And so it finally hit me: As long as those trays kept coming, it meant that there was hope.

I miss hospital food.

“Tell me something
Tell me something
I don’t already know…”

This House Is Empty Now

“These rooms play tricks upon you
Remember when they were always filled with laughter “

This house is empty now.

My husband took a picture of my late sister’s living room and brought it back home for me to look at. By the time the picture had been taken, I had vowed never to go back to that house again. There are many things that I can write and/or say about this situation, but they will have to be said and/or written after all parties involved either die or go back to their respective planet(s). That being said…there will be many things that the world will never know.

I looked at the photo. My sister would not have liked for her living room to look like this.

“It’s funny how the memory will bring you so close… then make you disappear “

I had gone back a few times to help clean things up and clear things out, but have since left the task for my mother to complete. Too many disagreements over “who gets what”. Mind you, the disagreements were never about the monetary value of any of the “stuff”, but were based mostly on control and distribution. On my last visit to the house, on a day when Mom was not there, I asked my husband and son to wait out in the car while I said my last “goodbye” to the house and to whatever little was left of my sister that still remained within. As I stood alone in the middle of the floor with tears streaming down my cheeks saying my “goodbye”; I felt mad, glad, sad ….all at the same time. But mostly I felt “had”. Yep, you heard it right…”had”. My sister had left us alone to deal with this…this emotional mess! Sure, she had her financial house in order; but we were emotionally left “ holding the bag”

My sister died of stage 4 mestas…stststic , mestsatstsat… “however-the-heck-you-spell-it” breast cancer. For it to have gotten so far along, meant that she at least had some inkling that “sumthin’ wern’t right” some time beforehand. She never told us.

We loved that girl. We love that girl. Her home was the place of many good times and family gatherings.

“This house is empty now. There’s no one living here you have to care about “

Although my husband still makes sure that the lawn is regularly mowed, and the hedges trimmed, I haven’t been by the place in a while. And from what my husband and Mom tell me, everything has been pretty much cleared up inside as well . My sister’s clothes and shoes have been tried on, picked over and/or shipped out. Her household items have been divvied up, the remaining furniture has been put back into place; and the house is almost ready to be put on the market for sale. When I used to visit the house regularly, in the days immediately following her death, I could literally feel my sister’s spirit seeping out with each visit . There is one thing I know for sure…there is “something” that can actually be felt when a home is lived in; and the person doesn’t have to actually be on site for this feeling to occur. It is more or less a “knowing” of whether a place is inhabited or not. Make no mistake about it…. although her house may appear to look lived in; everything that made my sister’s house a home is now gone. Despite the cheery flowers and well kept exterior…

This house is empty now. ..

So am I… and so am I…

Sometimes Goodbye is A Second Chance

“My eyes are open wide, …and by the way I made it through the day.”

“The girls.” “My girls.” “The sisters.” Those “[insert family name]” girls. “M and B’s daughters.” “J’s sisters”….etc;

But now, she is dead.

My sister and I were close. Very close. So close, in fact that it had been said that you would “never see one without the other.” We were always spoken of in singular terms; as if we were one and the same; or at the very least…somehow joined “at the hip”.

Although I was?/am? (still not sure which term to use now) the eldest; it always felt as if there were no age differences between us. We were the ultimate complement to each other. When we grew into adulthood, we left the family home, and moved into an apartment together… In fact, lived together for five years. It was a fabulous five years, filled with fun and happiness. We only split because I got married; leaving her to live alone by herself. But we were still “the girls”. When I married, my new husband fit right in, and although we lived separate lives, the three of us often traveled and did things together.

As time passed, (8 years) I added a new baby to the mix. He also fit right in. In fact, she bought a car seat to have in her car at all times. She loved that child. She seemed happy enough, but now I begin to wonder. She had lots of friends, everyone loved her, and she seemed to be everything; a one all-inclusive package: Successful, self-sufficient, well-traveled…You know?

After she died, I started to wonder just how much each of our identities were tied in with that of the other. She and I were part of a matched set. While I had my husband and child to go home to each evening , I often still wonder what she really felt when she went home alone. Because of her being single, she was able to spend lots of time with my parents; and as a result she became extremely close to them; and they to her. When she died, she left them with a void so huge, that I doubt will ever be filled in this lifetime. As I fumble around and try to do many of the things that she seemed to do effortlessly; this leaves me feeling inadequate; and feeling somewhat like the “spare” daughter.

“Tell my mother, tell my father…I’ve done the best I can”

“The girls.” “My girls.” “The sisters.” “Those girls.” “M and B’s daughters”…

And so now the question left to be answered is this:

“Without my sister, who the hell am I now!!?”

“I’m not angry, I’m just saying…Sometimes goodbye is a second chance
“Here is my chance…This is my chance!”

A Long December

A long December and there’s reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last”


This is a word that I do not take lightly. In fact, I try to treat the word as if it costs five dollars per utterance.

That being said… here’s my hundred dollars up front. And if my calculations are correct, this should buy me at least twenty instances of the venomous word. Here comes one now:

I hate December.

For reasons that would take far too long to mention, I can honestly say that my hatred of December began long before my sister died. The love actually began fading sometime during my pre-teen years and turned into full blown hatred as I grew into adulthood. Many times, I tried to give December a chance; to allow it to change my mind; but it relentlessly continued to bring in its cold winds, ice, snow, sadness and confusion; believing that it could trick me into happiness by packaging it all up in a pseudo-festive atmosphere of bright lights and good will…and let’s not forget a little dash of “Jesus” thrown in for the ultimate in guilt and “Divine” endorsement. Well, I didn’t buy it then…and I sure ain’t buying it now!

“I can’t remember the last thing that you said as you were leaving”

December, let’s just you and me have a little chat. I spent most of the 2009 version of you and your pitiful self in the hospital with my dying sister. You even had the nerve to throw in a vicious Winter storm that dumped out a foot of snow! Thanks to you, we were unable to visit her for two excrutiatingly long days. Thanks to you, those were two of the worst days of my life!

“The smell of hospitals in winter
And the feeling that it’s all a lot of oysters, but no pearls”

I hate you December…You and your two-faced friend January.

Easy for me to say…in the heat of summer…on a June 22, 2010 afternoon.

On this day, I say it to you behind your back.

When you come back ’round again…it will feel good to tell you to your face.

I refuse to be your prisoner any longer.

“It’s been so long since I’ve seen the ocean
I guess I should…”

My Love’s Leavin’

Landmines and Boobytraps.

Never really had much use for either of those words; except perhaps during that rare, once-in-a-decade discussion that occasionally popped up dealing with war and strategy. I really hadn’t any use for those words…that is; until after my sister died. The road on which I walk now is fraught with tons of each. I now find myself in the position of never knowing what smell, sound or song will be the one that will catch me off guard; sending me running to nearest restroom to have a mini-breakdown. I never know… Kleenex is now in my purse at all times; because …, I just never know.

“Shadows in purple thrill me
I cry myself awake each night”

Last night (Sunday, June 13,2010) my husband and I had my parents over for dinner and a movie. We had a chance to sit and talk. I cooked and made preparations as music played in the background. Usually, during these family dinners, my sister would be working side-by-side with me…helping. On this night, she was not with me. It all felt strange. My husband had selected a jazz album by the group “Fourplay”. There is this one track on it, “My Love’s Leavin’” that seemed to just suddenly jump out and grab me by the throat . There was no warning. As Michael McDonald sang out the painful words, I ran out of the room. But before I did , I begged my husband to “please, change the song!” “Please change it now!” I ran upstairs and managed to get myself together; coming back down in less than five minutes. The moment I returned, I apologized to everyone and told them that I thought I could listen to the CD, but it’s just “that song”. I just can’t listen to “that song!” Mom looked me straight in the eye and quietly whispered, “I understand, Lord knows I understand”. Daddy ? Well he just sat…and stared straight ahead. You never know.

“I can’t believe that it’s true
Here I am, where are you?”

Then…there was the movie, “Everybody’s Fine” with Robert DeNiro. Mom cried throughout the first ten minutes of it. My husband asked if we needed to stop looking at it; but she said that she still wanted to see it. It took a while before we all felt comfortable enough , but we did finish. I refused to cry this time around; as I already had made an ass of myself earlier. Truth be told: It was actually a good movie. But, you never know.

Wasn’t too long before it was time to pack up food for them to take home and kiss them goodnight. Mom has a difficult driving in the dark, so she was a bit nervous. My husband and I have decided that the next time, we will pick them up and drive them back ourselves. As they left to go home, the sky had had just enough light left; so that they would not have to drive home in pitch black. I looked up into that sky and saw something just awesomely phenomenal.

“Shadows in purple thrill me”

My husband was standing on the stoop next to me; yet I was unable to speak to him until after it passed over. I told him what I saw; and he smiled. Having Mom and Dad over for dinner and a movie was a good thing. A very good thing. I know that you are wondering: Just what was it that I saw? That, I’m afraid, is personal. You’ll never know .

‘sides…you’d never believe me if I told you.

“But I’ll control my feelings,I find faith, healing; and I’ll find hope singing”
“The way is so long. But I’m going to be strong”

We are going to be alright.

Her Diamonds

“Oh what the hell she says, I just can’t win for losing…and she lays back down”

One of my sister’s most precious possessions were her diamond earrings. Everyone who knew her well, knew how much she loved wearing them. She wore them every day. .. even had them on when she was admitted to the hospital. But…as everyone with good sense knows, it is not a good idea to have valuables laying around in a hospital room. It is also especially not a good idea to be wearing expensive jewelry during one’s stay.

It had become our habit (my husband and mine) to take her purse to her every day when we visited. We would never open it. We would bring it in, hand it over to her, and then let her go through it; fingering through its contents to her heart’s desire. Afterwards, she would zip it up again, and hand it back to us. She was beginning to relinquish whatever she had left of her physical decision making power over to others. Making sure that she had complete control over her purse was one of the ways we felt that she could somewhat maintain her dignity.

“Her diamonds bring me down ’cause I can’t help her now”

It would also be well to note that my sister was one “smart cookie”. Although she loved her diamond earrings, she knew that they would best be taken care of if handed over to a trustworthy (and at least semi-responsible) person. I am such a person. And so she took them off and handed them over to me. As she watched, I wrapped them in Kleenex and stuffed them down into one of the inner pockets of the purse. I then dramatically zipped the pocket shut, and patted the purse reassuringly. She smiled. She knew they were safe.

There they stayed…that is, until after she died.

It was hard to have to go through that purse when she passed. It was even more difficult for me to get up the nerve to begin wearing those earrings. She would have wanted me to. I found the receipt for them while going through her things at her house. I was surprised at what she paid for them. I, however, will not reveal to you whether this surprise was in knowing “how much” or for knowing “how little”. Because, you see, the truth is: Now…they are priceless.

“She’s down in it…she tried her best but now she can’t win
It’s hard to see them on the ground…her diamonds falling down, way down”

Her diamonds? In my ears. Right now.

I wear them proudly.

I wear them forever.

If You’re Gone

This is the hospital room where my sister died. She died on a Wednesday. The photo was taken just days before. I knew that one day I would need this. And I was right. I need it today.

Although still in the same room where she had initially been admitted; this time she was now under hospice care. This meant that there would be no heroic efforts made to save her life. She was simply to be kept as comfortable as possible. No food. No water. Just quietly and humanely waiting for the inevitable.

“I think I’ve already lost you…I think you’re already gone

Tonight was my night to stay with her. I maintained vigil in her hospital room; sitting in a semi-comfortable bedside chair. This was to be the last night of her life. This was our last “sleepover”. My back was turned to the open door as moonlight streamed into her darkened room from the window directly in front of me. The shadows of nurses and doctors danced in and and out as they walked behind me in the lighted hallway. Sometimes they would stop to listen, as I softly sang to her, prayed for her, and cried for her. I also cried for me.

I never turned around to acknowledge their presence, and so within moments, they would continue walking. All the while, my sister’s eyes remained half open; their whites a deep golden shade of yellow, her pupils staring vacantly out into space.

By this time, she had long since stopped communicating verbally. The medical/hospice professionals had mentioned to us that “the hearing will be the last to go” And so, whenever she thrashed around in pain, with tears streaming down my face, I would beg her to leave…“Please go,“ I would plead, “we’ll be alright!” When the thrashing finally subsided and she lay in relative peace, I would then change my mind and beg her to stay. This begging and pleading for her to stay…then go, went on all night long. I didn’t know what I wanted. Worse still, I didn’t know what she wanted.

At one point during the night, I placed one of my wrists into one of her withered and chemotherapy darkened clenched hands. “They tell me you can’t communicate with me”, I sobbed, “but I know that you are in there somewhere! I just know it!” “Please do something to let me know you’re still here!“ It was then, while still maintaining her vacant gaze, that she lifted my wrist up to her face. And when she no longer had the strength to hold on to it any longer, she let it go. It was all she had left in her power to do; her final gift to me. Acknowledgement. Recognition. I drew her hands back up to my face. My knees buckled as I slid out of my chair, falling onto them; onto the cold, hard linoleum floor … weeping as quietly as I could . In time, those knees began to hurt, but my heart hurt even more.

“there’s an awful lot of breathing room – but I can hardly move”

In that moment, I had no way of knowing that she would die the next day. But within that same moment, there was one thing I did know: As I reflected on her life, and the gracious, generous, loving way she lived it, I began to reason: The only thing worse than not giving enough, is giving too much. During a lifetime, in a valiant attempt to try and make everyone happy, she gave too much. Far too much. I have no plans to follow her lead.

Sure, I’ll be gracious, generous and loving…but I’ll be damned if I surrender it ALL !

“I think I’m finally scared now…you think I’m weak, I think you’re wrong”

Here is where it stops.