Tag Archives: siblings

Walking through grief

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The past couple days have been rough, with migraines and frustrating bitchiness.   This morning I was allowing myself to get really bent out of shape over nothing, when I sat down and jumped on facebook.      I hope the migraine(s) are behind me, I think it’s related to barometric pressure, my head feels like it isn’t attached to my body.  Strange, and adding to the Bitch of the Year award!

As I surveyed my facebook feed, I read a post from a friend who is really a very lovely woman, a woman of faith, ridiculously talented, and kind to the core.     She posted about two children who touched her deeply today, and made her smile while she was gassing up her car.    It lightened up my mood, until close to the end where she spoke about telling the kids mother how much their kindness and friendliness meant to her, and today or all days, as her sister died early this morning of cancer.   Tears flowed down my face then.

I immediately sent her a message, offering condolences, and thanking her for her share.   My mind swept back to the very days my sisters succumbed to cancer.    I was broken, and I was angry at God for allowing this to happen.  And so began a war between he and me, for months on end.   I defied my morning praises, and no longer prayed at all.   How could he allow this to happen?

In time, I learned and accepted that death is a part of our life, and that fairness doesn’t really play a role here.  But my friend, who had just said goodbye to her sister, was talking about how good God is, and how much this experience helped her, and made her smile.   I cried as I reread her beautiful, lovely, words.    How amazing that she was at peace, or I should say, more peace than I had when my sisters took their last breaths.

I sat in silence, trying to compose myself, get my emotions into check, and while I would like to say the bitchiness melted away, it did not, but I was so moved by her share, and her eloquence, awestruck with her compassion and faith.     When she replied to my message she spoke words I understand too well, about not knowing how she will do this without her sister, her first best friend.    Her words lent clarity to me of how I felt, too.

I remember thinking how cruel it was that the birds still chirped, that life still went on, even though my sisters lives were over.   I remember people telling me “time will heal”.  I also remember being firmly (and probably belligerently) adamant that NO ONE would tell me how to grief, how to walk through this atrocity which had been handed down to my family.   Grief is a journey, a necessary journey that is so individualized.   There is no right or wrong way to grieve, though I hope I handled it with even a small portion of the grace that my friend did this morning.

At this time another friend texts me that she knew and was related to the pedestrian who was hit in Brattleboro yesterday and who died later from her injuries.    Many eyewitnesses have shared that she walked right out in front of the car, the driver was not at fault.  But that driver?  Is devastated.    I saw pics of him with his head in his hands, crying.  Of course he was.  What person wouldn’t be?    And then she shared that this person had also just lost two siblings to cancer.    I was relaying all this to my mom, and we shared how grief is an alternate existence, if you will.   You’re not in your right mind, your preoccupied, sad, emotional, and that may be a part of why she aimlessly walked into traffic.  How incredibly sad.

So, tonight, as I write this, I’m thinking about all that transpired this morning and how it changed and altered my piss poor thinking.   I am still working through some crap, but for the most part, I’ll be crawling into bed very grateful that my day may be frustrating, and my head may ache, but I had a fairly uneventful day given two other peoples lives that changed drastically in a moments time.

I wish you a restful nights sleep, and an uneventful (almost boring) day tomorrow.  Life can change on a dime, and it does.  We find ourselves walking through life without those we love most in the world, and I have since learned that the birds still chirping as we walk through grief is really a gift, because life does go on for some.    How easily, how naturally we take things for granted, at least I do.   And I think I’m a pretty grateful person, but obviously imperfect and still learning about life.   Aren’t we all?

 

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Not Yesterday’s tears

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It’s been a long time since I’ve written.   I’ve been holding things within, things that I don’t want tarnished by another person’s view, or comments.   I have had what some would call “wild” experiences, but they bring me tremendous comfort.   I am not ready to share them, and I may never be.    But I have so much gratitude for these signs, times.

I’ve had an eventful year so far, two days in San Juan, Puerto Rico, followed by a 7 day cruise with my best girlfriend.  It was amazing.   We visited St Croix, the place where someone very special to me took his last breath.   It was comforting to see such a beautiful place, I could easily visualize him there, and happy, and that is a gift, a true gift when someone dies too young.   It brought me peace.  We also visited St. Kitts (swam with dolphins), Barbados, Dominica (tubed down a river in a rain forest) and St. Maartan.

I returned home to my house in repair, and new windows.   I’ve been asked on numerous occasions if I hit the lottery, if I had a sugar daddy, or a new boyfriend who was footing the bills.  My answer is all the same.  No!    I have been blessed with good people in my life, good friends, family who look out for me.   For some reason, this year I scored, and big… I am again, very grateful.

The past few days have offered no restful sleep, and high pain levels.   I am tired, beyond tired.  I know I’m not alone here.    I’m reminded of a quote a friend told me many years ago “Fatigue makes cowards out of all of us”.   I wouldn’t quite describe myself as cowardly, but my body is clearly not cooperating with my desires or plans.  I don’t like it.  Today, after a couple of weeks with high pain levels, I want to raise the white flag and surrender.   I want to give up.    Today I called my dad, and during our conversation I unexpectedly starting to weep.

A couple of weeks ago I had a similar experience.  It was a sleepless night, I was scrolling through facebook and read a post that shared hundreds of ugly, vile comments on homosexuality.   At first I was in shock.   Then I got angry, and I wanted to respond, but I recalled a post by a friend who experienced something similar, and it helped me.  To my credit, I knew I was tired and could never hold a candle against people with such harsh views.  Instead, I cried.   The tears just flowed down my cheeks until the sheet I had tucked myself into needed to be replaced.    I am not gay.  My late sister called me “pathetically straight”.    I thought of her, and all my dear family and friends who are gay, and cried for them.  I cannot imagine being judged so harshly because of who I am.  I then cried for those I didn’t know who were being judged so harshly, so cruelly

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve also been witness to a friends “religious friends” judging her and her actions.    This instills so much anger in me.  Really?   When did God put you in charge of another person’s life?  Religious beliefs?  Spirituality?    I am not slamming ANY religion, but I am so dismayed by people who claim to be so holy, and yet they only portray to me and to many others, that this is NOT what I want in my life!  I have religious people in my life who treat me with respect, allow me the space for my own beliefs, and who are and will be there for me without judgement.  One cousin I am close to, who helps me more than he will ever know.  Who will, when asked, share his views and beliefs, and interpretation of the bible, but does not judge me or others.   Do I know which of these two examples is “right?”  No, but I sure the heck know which person I would like to hear more about his God from!  The paragraph is not about religion, but the lack of love, respect for others.   We are living in some pretty hard times, and frankly, I’ve run into some pretty cold people.

This afternoon I dug into my bureau that holds my most prized possessions.   Love letters, favorite toys of my aussie’s, pictures, emails, cards.   One of the items is packed neatly into a box with Bugs Bunny characters on the outside.  I opened it, and there was my sisters cap and gown, and the paperwork that we were handed when we went to see her graduate with a Criminal  Justice degree.   I pulled out the cap, the tassles that signified the year, and her graduating with honors.    I have had this neatly tucked away (and I have taken it out many times before) for almost 13 years.   She died April 8, 2003 at the age of 38.   Something fell out of her cap.  It was a pair of her sunglasses.   I wrapped everything back up, and then found an email from my older sister who gave us updates on how Darlene was doing.  This was 6 days before she died.   In the email she wrote “She seemed to have some unfinished business with Donna.  We had a hard time understanding her.  But it was a simple as ‘Tell Donna I love her and will miss her’.   I don’t think Darlene was able to say those things when Donna was here and it troubled her.”     Talk about tears.  I fell to my knees, sobbing.   Where was this email for the past 13 years?   Why had I not seen nor remembered it?    But you know what?    It was just what I needed, today, on this difficult day.  It was like having been penned and sent from heaven, itself.

And one last thing I’d like to share.  It was written in a card from the beautiful soul who I mentioned earlier who died in St. Croix.   “Dear Donna,  Being away from you has made my feelings for you and about us even stronger and clearer than before.  I know today that I want to spend the rest of my life with you.  I love you, Jim”    I love you too.

I am not living in yesterday’s pain, or dwelling on my past.   Today it helped to revisit these momentous beautiful times and people who were once very prominent in my life (understatement).  It has helped to remind me that in spite of all the pain and shit that happens, love never dies.  Even when someone has crossed over, love can continue to grow.  And that perhaps, I may experience this amazing journey of love again, with someone new.   And as I looked at the MANY pictures of my sister, there were only a handful without her smiling.   She lived life well.  She worked hard, played hard.   She was just an awesome person.  I miss her everyday of my life, and to think ill of her because her sexuality, well hey… guess what?   If you do?  It’s on you.   I’m so glad I didn’t miss a moment with her.  She taught me so much and one thing she taught me by example?   Live your life, be true to yourself, and pay no mind to those who judge you!  It was a nice “visit” down memory lane.   It helped me gain new perspective (now through my sisters sun glasses), and those who have brought me dismay of late, have no more power.  I am reminded of all good.  I am reminded of why sometimes it’s so hard to carry on, because life was indeed much easier with the presence of those who are no longer with me, but just to be back there mentally, gives me the strength and desire to fight on.  Today it was nice to revisit the warmth of yesterday.

Go have yourself a great day.  Sending you all love and light,

Donna (pronounced, DonNUH)

 

 

 

My kid sister

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51 years ago today, a beautiful soul was born into this world.    She was as cute as a button, and a very happy baby.darlene3 001

My sister had an old soul.   She was chronically wise.  A natural observer, she would often sit back and watch me open my big mouth, or do something that would inevitably get me into big doo doo’s.   We were 2.5 years apart in age.   When it came to common sense, she was born with it.

She had the biggest brown eyes, beautiful woman.   She had a great smile and she wore it more than most.   She was a happy person.  A hard worker, who equally played hard.   She lived wisely, she lived well.

It has been twelve years, maybe more since she was taken out of this life, too young.   Too young.   But when I say that, and I do feel that way, I am reminded of one of the many trips to Dartmouth Hitchcock for treatment, when we walked into the chemo ward and there was a child, a baby really, being infused with toxins to save his life.   “I guess I don’t have anything to complain about, do I now?”    I think of those words often, not to dwell, but to remember her strength, and to learn from her courage, her wisdom.

She died 10 months to the day of diagnosis, ovarian cancer.   She was 37 at diagnosis.    As I sit here typing this, all these years later, the journey through treatment, the painful truths that were worded carefully, revealing her fate, fills my chest cavity with void, with pain.    I don’t believe I will ever “get over” this.   And that is okay.   Death is a part of life, an important part.   I have come a long way in my grieving.   I seldom cry anymore, tonight I am.    Because I’m remembering the difficult journey she walked, and she did it amazingly well.  I never heard her complain.  Ever.  Please don’t say “I’m sorry”.    I was so fortunate to have known her.

I remember walking into Higgins Hospital in Wolfeboro NH, she was getting a transfusion.   I walked into her room, and she was white as a sheet,  double fisted in pain.   I asked when her meds were due.   “I could have them at 3pm” (it was 3:45)   “They’ve been really busy”.    I stood up, walked out into the corridor and down to the nurses station.   “My sister is in pain, her meds were scheduled for 45 minutes ago”.   “Yes, we’ll be right there”.    5 minutes later, 10 minutes later.  I walked back out into the corridor, this time offering no kind tone “MY SISTER NEEDS HER MEDS….. NOW!”     Within a couple of minutes she was given her meds.      I sat beside her bed, rubbing her arm, talking to her, trying to distract from what was obviously horrendous.  But you don’t really distract from that, do you?  Can you?    “Donna?”   Yeah, I said.  “Thank you”.    If you knew my sister, this spoke volumes of what her pain level was.   She didn’t like discord, and certainly didn’t want to ruffle any feathers.   She would roll her eyes at me when I would.   Night, day.

This woman meant the world to me.  If you have sisters and are close, I needn’t say more.  She lives on, in my heart, and my memories have faded some, but not drastically.    I can close my eyes and envision her sparkly brown eyes that lit up our fathers eyes, soul.   I remember that she didn’t like to try on clothes, so when we shopped, I would slide the pant leg up my arm.   If it came to the end of my fingers, they would fit her.   Laughing now.

Sometimes I think about the loss I have experienced, and I am not seeking sympathy, but reflecting on my life, on the lives of those I’ve loved and lost, and I just cannot believe I survived it.   But when I wrote her eulogy, I vowed to live every day of my life to the fullest.  I wanted to live a good life, to live a purposeful life, in her honor, in her memory.   Sometimes I think I’ve fallen short, I don’t think she would agree with that.  Sometimes I feel my best isn’t good enough, and it is.   I can hear her saying that to me.   “It is!   All you need is encouragement”.

So on this day, her birthday, I am going to do something kind for another, randomly, for her.   And I am going to do something kind for myself.    I am a better person for having her in my life for 38 years.   I know I, we, truly were fortunate to have her in our lives at all.   She was everyone’s favorite.

If you want to do something kind for another today, in her memory, I would love that, she would love that.  Remember, kind can be just a smile!   I will light a candle, and I will follow the ritual I have done since she passed.   It is a special day.   Today, 51 years ago, a beautiful soul was born into this world.  I know, because I was fortunate and blessed to call her my kid sister.  Today I, my family, will celebrate her life.

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Family

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Today I took my mom to her parents graves.   She wants to plant some flowers on them and couldn’t decide what to buy so we went there first.  My mothers youngest  brother died a few weeks ago.  We just got access to clean out his apartment.  We’ve worked hard the past couple of days, last night we received some very difficult news which left us both feeling very disappointed.  This morning I woke up, she was in tears.   My mother seldom cries.   She read some of the police reports when he had disappeared for 2 years and she couldn’t find him.  His then short term wife brought him somewhere and he had brain surgery, then put him in a nursing home and filed for divorce.   It took two years for the sheriff to find him.   The past couple of days she has relived her childhood, the auto accident my uncle was in that caused damage to his brain.   He could still walk, talk, but his thinking had been altered.   On my grandmother’s death bed my mother made a promise to her mother that she would take care of Hank, and she did.   I just listened to her this morning for a couple hours as she shared stories from her childhood.   This was why I suggested we go to the cemetery.   It ended up being a good thing to do.   She reminisced and shared childhood stories from the small town she grew up in, and where my grandparents, uncle are buried.  I think it was healing for her.   Then we went flower shopping!

We had a credit coming to us at Tractor Supply, so we bought some birdseed and annuals.  Then she wanted to stop at a local nursery on the way home.  We had an enjoyable time “just looking” and a basket full of plants!    My mom loves to be outdoors, garden, she loves to watch the birds, so we filled up the feeders, some for finches and others for bluebirds.  We trimmed branches on my “tree of life” so the blue birds can get a clear view of it and the blue bird house several feet behind.   We’ve always had blue birds, this year we do not.  I only saw one.  So we’re trying to entice them back.

As I drove her around and listened to her stories I felt grateful that I have this time with my mom.   I’m grateful I still have both parents, and I’m grateful that I can be there for her when she needs support.    She is spending the weekend at my house so we’re going to do a lot of small projects including planting the beautiful assortment of posies we bought…   How nice making these good memories.   I need to keep busy right now, am struggling with some things myself, so I think this will be good, for both of us.    I like doing for my mother.  My efforts and actions are not to seek her approval, but to be the best daughter I can be.  This makes ME feel good.  I love taking care of my animals.  This, too, makes me feel good.

We’re planning on what we can use for props in the flower garden and beds.  I found this old shovel at a friend’s dump pile and it’s going to be a perfect prop.   I bought a very old wooden wheel barrel at a flea market years ago.   We plant flowers in it every year.   I’m excited about the weekend.

I shall now retire to bed, watch a couple Golden Girls or Frasier reruns and will hopefully sleep well as I have an early day tomorrow.

Have a great weekend.   Be safe!