“For all of us you gave your best, now the time has come for you to rest. So, go in peace, you’ve earned your sleep, your love in our hearts we’ll eternally keep.” ~ Author Unknown
Whether it was the stunning suddenness, or the unexpected message that disrupted my morning, or the fact that this is the first of my siblings to pass . . . my sister’s passing has taken my breath away. Like getting hit suddenly in the chest with a ball, it has left me gasping with tears of disbelief.
My earliest memory of her was when I was 7 — it was the first time my mother had allowed my older sister and I to visit my dad and his family at their place. I was nervous and scared. And then . . . there she was – older, taller, dark-haired, brown-eyed, olive complexion, smiling and making me feel not only welcome, but wanted. It’s one of the first times of feeling that I belonged in a family where I was an unwanted inconvenience to my parents. She was helping take care of my baby brother and I followed her everywhere that day. If it annoyed her, she didn’t show it.
The visits after that were sporadic, usually when there was a family get-together on my dad’s side. By then she was married, with one child, working as a NICU nurse and I thought she was not only beautiful but hilarious as well. She was usually smiling with an impish grin, dimples showing in her cheeks with a laugh that bubbled up from her toes.
When my natural sister began dating a guy that lived up the street from our dad, the visits became more frequent. Now with two children, there were church softball games, canoe trips, family dinners — even though I had several step-siblings, we never referred to each other as “step-.” She was always my favorite. Perhaps it was because the oldest sister was already married and out on her own my first foray into their family when I was 7. The older boys didn’t really spend much time talking to a little girl. As I got older, they were always nice and we joked around as siblings do, but SHE was always my favorite.
When I contemplated nursing school, she was right there encouraging me to apply and see what happened. I ended up getting accepted to all three nursing schools to which I applied. Out of the four girls in our family, three of us became nurses, two of us married firefighter/paramedics. Right up until the day she passed, she loved working in the NICU and was able to comfort even the fussiest of preemies. Her passion was gardening and lilies and she had finally met and married the man of her dreams and was the happiest I’d ever seen her for the past 16 years.
Because of the recent surgery, I will not be able to attend her services. I cannot travel in a car for that length of time, nor is it safe for me to fly due to the increased risk of blood clots. I have made peace with that, but as I look through photos, I rejoice in the memories that we shared and wish that I had let her know how much I really admired her.