I’m back. Where have I been? Well, my boyfriend had a conference in Europe that I decided to tag-a-long on (tough life, I know) and then, I moved to my new city and started my new job. I don’t feel very settled in yet – kind of scatter-brained today. But, one thing is certain. The holidays are approaching and I’m not a fan. Not. One. Bit. (See my oh-so-lovely drawing above). Halloween to New Year’s used to be my favorite time of year. As recently as last year, this was my favorite time of year. Not only are there the typical holidays, but also my birthday and my anniversary with my boyfriend. It’s just all of this special, magicalness crushed into a few months for non-stop good times.
But, now my sister is dead. And all of the excitement and anticipation has turned into dread. I don’t want her to miss my birthday, especially, this one – one of those big birthdays – thirty. I don’t want to go through a Halloween or New Year’s without at least hearing her voice. AND I DO NOT WANT ONE SINGLE DAMN CHRISTMAS WITHOUT HER! Just the idea, just the thought…and…I’m a mess. A complete mess. The last time that I saw her not stuck to a kazillion tubes and machines was Christmas last year. She was mad at me the entire time. I had posted a recent family photo of us on Facebook and she hated how sick she looked and so was furious that I had put it online and was refusing to take it down. I remember not taking it down for two reasons: (1) the picture was cute and, yes, she looked sick but I wanted her to see through it to how beautiful she was; and (2) I wanted the fight. I don’t know why – I just had this feeling our fights were numbered. And that’s how we interacted. Sounds weird…but it’s true. …I did take the picture down…eventually…
My sister said she hated the holidays after my parents divorced (we were adults when it happened). It was a lie, though. She loved the holidays – loved the traditions… She was always upset if we didn’t make Christmas cookies or paint Easter eggs. Out of all the holidays, Christmas was the one she loved the most. How are we supposed to survive it without her? How do you celebrate family when an integral part of yours isn’t there? Is missing out? Is dead?
She’s going to miss this holiday season and all the others and all the days in-between. All the new songs on the radio, the new episodes of Grey’s – big to small – she’s going to miss out on all of them.
But, there’s a sadder truth: She was always missing out. She started missing out when she was nine. How many days of school did she miss? Recess? School events? Dances? She missed out on boyfriends, being loved by someone that wasn’t her family, maybe getting married, having kids……..She could have never gone on the trip that I just did – explore a different country was an impossibility. She missed out on life. There were times when she was seemingly “normal” but she was a sick kid and life’s not kind to sick kids.
It’s quite cruel. You can’t live life like you want to, but you have to watch everyone else get to. Maybe she liked traditions so much because it made her feel normal…doing the things that we had always done before she was sick. Maybe, she could pretend just for a little while that everything was okay. I wish I had figured so much out sooner…had started to realize what it was like for her every day. The last year of her life was when I had finally started to realize it all. I figured out how to be a sister at the age of 29. She died before I was 30.
My one hope is that if she exists somewhere that she’s off in that somewhere living, really living. The way she couldn’t here. That she’s no longer watching…not even us.
Especially not as we try to figure out how to live without her.