Death visited our family once again this year. Cancer snuck in like a thief in the night and took our sister away from us. We were all stunned at the quickness with which she went. One day she had a headache, a trip to the doctor, a MRI and off for a biopsy. We gathered up our Mom, took her down to see her after the biopsy. A week later the year she had been given turned into a week. That Cancer was growing by leaps and bounds taking away the person she was. Back to the hospital she went. We gathered up our mom again and went for another visit all seven of her siblings. They discharged her with plans for a course of radiation/chemo. One treatment, a call for 911 and back to the hospital. Again we gathered up the siblings and as we were driving down to the hospital received a call she had passed away.
Tomorrow is her memorial and she will be laid to rest at a graveside service on Monday. Tonight we sat at our Nephews and put together a picture memorial for her. I saw a side of my sister through the many pictures I never knew existed. Oh yes, I knew she drove a paratransit bus for the past 28 years but little did I know how caring she was with her charges, how she worried about them now that she was unable to drive anymore and how she decorated her bus and dressed up for all the holidays. Yes, she and her DH rode a Gold Wing but little did I know, were part of a group and traveled all over the western states setting their tents up wherever. I didn't know she rode herself. There's a lot of things I didn't know about my sister. She was a caring, loving person and was never without a package of kleenix or pair of gloves. Her pockets told the story. She was a pack rat just like our mom. Who would keep their report cards from kindergarten but she did and every occassion she felt important to remember. Graduations, weddings, births, deaths and even all the things each of her siblings and children accomplished. I felt I didn't really know this person who was my sister, she seemed a stranger to me.
Somewhere in growing up and growing older we lost being sisters. We were each others Maids of Honor, alternated having kids, traded pictures and wrote letters when we both married servicemen and tranfered around the country and sometimes out of it. When I moved back home we never saw each other except for special occasions or the family picnic we hold each year. She came to my house once and I hadn't been to hers in 30 years. We never shared as we aged , we didn't connect like sisters will. We went our separate ways, raising our children, becoming grandma's and growing older.
I'm sorry I didn't know my sister better. We could and should have been friends for who are we without our families, our sisters, and brothers. I lost when I didn't take the time to mend whatever fences we had errected over the years. I lost when I chose to stay away because she wasn't the housekeeper I thought she should be.
In this past month while I watched my sister who I didn't have much use for wither away and die I'm ashamed that I based being a sister on whether or not she kept a tidy house. She was loved by her children, her grandchildren, her co-workers, friends and the people who rode her bus.
This death has been very hard on all of us, especially my mother. It's the first in our immediate family. She's already outlived all her siblings, my father, his family and now she's starting to outlive her children.
I know I need to be a better daughter and sibling to my other brothers and sisters. I need to allow them to be theirselves and not put restrictions on my feelings for them.