Had I not lost my sister, I may have never started this blog. Because she was enough. I’d call her with my random jokes, and quirky ideas, and relationship fears.
I remember I called her three years into my last relationship. I’d had an argument with my then fiancé “Michael” (I think I was still wearing the ring), and he was packing all his clothes in garbage bags because he was leaving me – funny thing, some of those same bags might be in my garage. I told her he was leaving and I wasn’t gonna stop him. (What can you when people wanna walk? You let them.)
She said, “Girl, he ain’t going nowhere. Believe me, he is not leaving you. He gon’ pack them bags and stay right there. Don’t even worry about it.”
Until recently, she was the only one who knew about that day. The only one who knew the extent of problems I was having at that time with my oldest son. The only one who saw me grieve the relationship before that one. (That winner got not one, but two other women pregnant on my watch.)
Anyway, Michael didn’t leave that night. It was eight years later when he finally took his things – I wound up naming him an imposter (in my mind, and in a poem that I might share later), and left. He protested – to no avail.
Why would I confide in anyone else when my sister was all I needed? So many people felt that way about her. She never betrayed secrets (not to me or anyone else that I know of).
Sifting through old emails last night, finding letters and essays I wrote when I was at NYU – I wrote a lot of memoir material that I’m pulling into my current book project, which is in a research and compiling stage; I found this poem I must’ve written six or seven years ago:
I cry whenever I see a blind man with a walking stick.
Because I am reminded of how lost you felt, trying to find your way.
I cry whenever the lights are off in the house,
And I can’t see where I’m going.
Because I am reminded of you,
And every waking moment you spent in darkness.
I cry whenever I see two sisters, laughing,
and enjoying each other’s company.
Because I am reminded of the special bond we shared.
That bond has been broken;
I’m in the physical. You are in the hereafter;
Your former shell buried beneath the earth.
We will always be together in our dreams.
I cry whenever I see an Auntie, loving her nieces
And nephews, and sharing their joys and pain.
Because I am reminded of your unconditional love of all children –
Especially your nieces and nephews.
I cry whenever I dream about you, and you can’t see.
Because I relive the pain of you losing your vision.
I relive your loneliness and your hurt.
In fact, I carry your pain around, with mine
I’m still glad that we can be together.
I can hug you in my dreams.
I cry whenever I feel the urge to bare my soul.
Because I am reminded that you were truly the only girl in the world
Who really knew me.
I know for sure that you trusted me with your life,
And I trusted you with mine.
In putting together my memoir, I’m remembering long forgotten details, like my sister’s best friend’s name in elementary school (LaShonda).
I’m generating questions to explore:
What do I have in common with my sister (besides a father, and a last name)? From my mother’s perspective? From mine?
What was the weather like the day my father died [4/10/2010],? and the day my sister died? [12/16/2007] Roads were icy. Her tongue was gray, and bloated and sticking out of her swollen face. She ballooned, my mother says from fluids being pumped into her body.
I’m being reminded of how irreplaceable she is. I’m more open about my life nowadays (a little bit), and I’ve grown in many ways (I got away with a LOT with guys – attitude for days…), and I am loved and supported for sure (thank you!) but there’s still a void. She just “got me.”
Eight years ago today, I lost my sister. If she were here, I think she’d be most proud of her nieces and nephews and how well they’re doing. And no doubt, she’d still be the nucleus of my immediate family – that person who everyone is drawn to. The one who makes up reasons to celebrate.
I’m actually not sad today. Not feeling any surface effects of grief. I ran some errands, and went to a doctor’s appointment. I’m really just remembering her, and putting some pieces together.
And here are some words from Gail Caldwell’s memoir Let’s Take the Long Way Home (which I’ve only read about in another book about writing memoir!):
I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too…
“Am I just supposed to keep going?” My life had made so much sense alongside hers: For years we had played the easy, daily game that intimate connection implies. One ball, two gloves, equal joy in throw and the return. Now I was in the field without her: one glove, no game. Grief is what tells you who you are alone.
*Dearest sister* We will always be together in our dreams.
Thank you for reading!
Categories: Personal Stories