I’m crying at the moment – listening to moving music, and letting the tears fall. I realize that tears are often an important part of life changes. They don’t need to be dried or hid from view, as there is nothing to fix. Allowing them to flow is part of the process. I’m here again after all this time, with another story about another change.
My sister Susie died 16 days ago. She was 68 – one day less than a year older than me. That makes us both Aries, although I never felt her fire the way I feel my own. She was so much more placid and serene in her approach to life, but she could be stubborn, and I think that’s what I loved most about her.
What I’ve been missing most since Saturday, December 15th, 2018, is the opportunity to call her like I always do. I’m walking down to the seaside, and I’m carrying my phone. It’s such a beautiful day – let me call Susie! I’m driving up to MA to visit Em, and I’ve got 2 hours – good time to talk to Susie! I’m sitting on my couch wondering why I feel so lost – I can call Susie! I know she’ll be there, I don’t need to ask permission to call, and she’ll be glad to hear my voice, and happy to listen to whatever I want to say. There aren’t too many people I feel confident to say that about. And I can’t call her now. The shock makes me realize that she’s really gone.
I pulled out my phone remembering suddenly that I had saved some of her voicemails. And there she was, laughing and blowing me kisses and calling me ‘Sweetheart!’ and telling me, ‘I love you so much!’ When I listen to it again, she’s alive and strong and I feel so relieved. That voice. Preserved in time. Like a living presence.
Susie, I didn’t feel any sorrow when Karina called to tell me. Just relief. Good timing, Sue. You didn’t waste any time lying around being an uncommunicative burden. It was hard to see you unable to talk that last time on Facetime. It was even harder to know what to say. I felt so awkward. I saw your face, and I knew you knew there was no turning back. You were hanging your head, and I could only imagine what you were thinking. I felt foolish chatting about this and that, as if we all didn’t know death was just around the corner. We just didn’t realize how close. I wonder if you did?
Grieving takes different forms for different people, and is a process just like everything else. When I realized I couldn’t talk to you anymore, I felt a sort of panic replace the rationalizations I had been thinking and telling everyone about your death – that it was the best thing blah blah. Suddenly I felt something, somewhere in the heart region. LOSS. Looking at this picture taken only a few days before your last breath, I suddenly saw you looking back at me, and realized you were smiling on the one side of your face that still could. My big sister was still giving her strength and kindness to me. This is my favorite picture now, and looking at it makes me happy, although I’m sad. I’m crying tears of joy, and tears of sadness. Isn’t that just like life. I miss and love you, my sister, Susie! What a gift to have had you in my life. And to still be able to hold you in my heart. I’m sorry you had to go so soon.