For those of you who have experienced the loss of someone close to you, you will understand what I am writing about. It never goes away, at least not for me.
Fourteen years ago today my kid sister died at the young age of 38. She had been diagnosed just ten months before with Ovarian Cancer. I’m not sure what hurts the most. The journey through it, where we did our best to comfort her and bring her to any treatment allowed, or the endless missing. I think it’s the missing.
Fourteen years and I still cry when I acknowledge this. But if I don’t, it makes its way through illness or pain, so it’s best to nod to the memory than deny it, at least for me.
At 37 she and her partner had just bought a house and had moved in just two weeks prior to the emergency surgery that was previously scheduled a week or two later. I remember it all so well, and I’m trying hard to not go there today. To just honor her, and tell you what a great person she was.
I can tell you that she worked very hard and knew how to play. She had a boat, snowmobiles, a toy for every season. She loved to fish, to play sports, and was a natural athlete. She had an old soul, I think about this often, wondering if this played a part in her short life. A natural observer, she was always warning me when to shut my big trap, or when I had gone past “obnoxious” she called it. Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion. It’s one that I experience a lot when I think about her.
One would think that after fourteen years you wouldn’t on occasion say to yourself “I have to call her, and tell her this!” It happens less each passing year, but it still happens.
She was my dads bud. I mean that with every part of my being. She loved hockey, she loved fishing and shared these things with our dad. We all share memories of this with her. It was rather comical last year when my father admitted one day “Okay, Darlene was my favorite”. The three of us laughed until tears came out of our eyes. “What?” “I’m sorry” he said. “Um dad, we have known this FOREVER!” I think he really believed it would shock us. NOT. I was sitting beside her on her couch the day she learned she was not going to recovery from this, and she called dad to tell him. “I’m sorry, dad, I’m so sorry”.
So it was on this day that my, our lives changed. For years I described things as “happened before she died, or happened after she died”. I didn’t mean to. It was just a game changer. My life changed. I changed.
I remember asking my cousin Marie, who came down to sit with me just hours after I learned she had died “How am I supposed to stop loving her?” “You never will, Donna” she said. How did she know? It was through my sisters death and living life without her that I learned, love doesn’t stop just because someone you love died. Nor does life stop, as cruel and vulgar as it seems at the time. “How can the birds still sing? How can people laugh, how can anything go on when my life has just come to a screaching halt?” But it does. But I have learned something beautiful within all the sadness and that is that love doesn’t ever stop, for me it continued and miraculously grew and still does, all these years later.
So on this day, I acknowledge that hope changes. At first you pray for a cure, you pray for treatment to work, and then when that stops working, you pray for strength and a new doctor, another treatment, and more. That is until you realize the suffering is going on too long, and you start to pray for God to be merciful with her, with them. Please, take her soon. Yes, hope changes.
I miss you every day. There hasn’t been a day in fourteen years you’ve been gone that I don’t think of you. You are part of me, you always will be. I can still close my eyes and see your face, the little tiny mole above your eyebrow, and see that beautiful smile that radiated wherever it was shown.
Time does teach us how to coexist with such loss, but it doesn’t heal the broken heart. I think because even when you pray for an end to the pain, and there is relief when that happens, the missing? It never stops.
(end note: I wrote this and posted it on 4/8 but for some reason it’s showing the 9th which I find interesting, because I actually found out about it just minutes after midnight on the 9th)