Archive for June, 2010

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!”

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A Long December

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

Hate.

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.