Thursday, May 14, 2009

Life Without My Sister

When events both sad and unexpected occur many of us are good at tapping the necessary human resources to help others through the dark valleys. We perceive their immediate needs to be more profound than our own and busy ourselves with all manner of activities to ease their pain and anguish. Although this selflessness is to be commended it has been my experience that this good-deed-doing often serves to mask our own need to grieve and really is not as ‘selfless’ as it may appear; in fact, at times it enters into the realm of selfishness. Once the needs of others are met - when the meals are served and the kitchen cleaned, the notes written and the casseroles returned, when the hands are held and the tears wiped away - we return to our once-familiar surroundings and wander helplessly about in the surreal wilderness of our own, unreleased anguish. This is not a happy destination and if you have landed there I urge you to retreat from it immediately. If we do not allow ourselves adequate time to grieve we corrupt a natural human system as necessary and perfect as breathing. Where does the selfishness come in? We protect ourselves from the pain and it has a peculiar way of manifesting itself in unhealthy ways somewhere down the line. We must ache and ache deeply. 
In my 56 years I have never met a person as pure, innocent and loving as my sister. Her middle name was Joy and it was perfectly chosen. I was not around in the early years as I was a very late arrival – ten years after the birth of my closest sibling. But I know some things. She’s the one that insisted that we have a stereo in our home in 1956. Dad obliged. She’s the one who bought the recordings of Peter, Paul and Mary, Burl Ives, Tchaikovsky and Little Richard. She’s the one who paid for the upright piano that arrived in our home one night in my childhood. She’s the one who paid for my piano lessons. She’s the one who opened a savings account to pay for my education. She’s the one who lifted our family from oblivion. She’s the one.
Last summer my darling sister was vacationing with her beloved husband of 45 years with friends they’d known and loved for an equal amount of time. She died in the middle of the night from a freakish heart attack. We had been planning a special reunion for the following month with our Mom and her 4 children. I have never heard heartache like I did when I spoke to my Mother on the phone that day. Three good sons cannot replace the importance of one great daughter. Oh my – the heartache, the heartache.
Do things ever get better? Well, I talked to my brothers last week about getting together this summer and Dick said, ‘Things just aren’t the same without Beverly.’ And then a little bitty tear let me down. 
With as much love as I can put on this page – Oh, how I miss you.


Blogger tallu said...

i am weeping and this is lovely. so lovely.

May 19, 2009 at 12:45 PM  
Blogger Kathy Smith said...


Your dear sister was my idol. She was my cousin who was pretty and smart, fun and loving. I knew I had to name my daughter after her. I've always reminded my daughter, Beverly, that she was named after a very special person. We will always miss Bev but our memories of her are wonderul -- fun and silly (as all of us cousins were we got together). Those memories cannot be taken away from us.

June 12, 2009 at 5:05 PM  
Blogger Thom Schuyler said...

Thanks for this sweet message, Kathy. Sorry I missed you and Steve when I was there. Hope you had a great time on vacation. xo Thom

June 15, 2009 at 8:10 AM  

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