Sunday, December 7, 2014

Writing the events

It has been almost 6 months since my sister's death, and the discovery of her real life and things I can't really verbalize.

A few weeks ago I started writing them.  It is chronological, describing what I was doing, what smells there were, and yes, the feelings.  The accounting is detailed and graphic.  But it is something I need to do for my own sanity.  I have to let it out and share it somewhere, so it is in a Word document.  I don't know if I will ever let anyone read it.  But it contains the facts of the situation.

When I read it back to myself, I cringe to myself because of the rawness of it all, and double check to make sure I haven't left anything out.  The read is rather clinical.

I think this is the way I am processing this grief.  It will be fine, but I don't think it will ever be over.

Monday, November 10, 2014

What really died on June 12

My sister died on June 12, but that's a who, not a what.

What died?
The hope I could have a healthy relationship with her.  It was the same as with my mother.  I mourned, and still do, mourn what could have been.

The trust I had in who I thought she was died.  There were so many things I thought she was doing, but now I know it was never true.  Well some parts, maybe.  I'm not a naive person and I'm not really trusting, either, but I couldn't believe some of the things I discovered.  Things that will be between me and her until I join her.

Hurt also died.  Not the hurt of my grief - that is still an oozing, crusting over scab.  Some of the emotional hurt.  She would lash out if she got backed into a corner.  This started as a child.  We had some doozies of  fights.  When I could drive, off I would go.

What didn't die was the peace I have.  I am really okay she is gone.  I don't like it.  I don't like she didn't make it to 45 years old.  I don't like she didn't take care of herself.  I don't like she didn't take care of the house.  I don't like she didn't take care of our father.  Some people will argue that point, but it is unfortunately true.  She took care of some stuff.

But I have peace and faith.  And that will never die.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Fall was my favorite Season

The Fall was my favorite season growing up.

It has Thanksgiving.  I love Thanksgiving - or I did.  It has beautiful colors and cooler weather.  It has the anticipation of Christmas and my Savior's birth.

It is bittersweet.

It also had my mother's birthday.  And her death day.  It had my sister's birthday.  And memories of childhood Thanksgivings with my cousins and grandmother's.  Right now, I am in a season of memories, of melancholy.

Tomorrow my mother will have been in heaven 10 years.  I know she has been happier there than she ever was here.  She is with her family - she is with Jesus - she has music and life and love and light.

As I face the next weeks thinking of the upcoming birthdays, pray for my sorrow and grief.  Pray that I can balance my time with the family I have with me, my work, and my first birthday in 45 years without my sister.

Mama and Natalie have been on my mind a lot the last week, and today has been difficult.  Difficulty with a student in the last week and again today didn't help.  Telling me to smile and get over it doesn't help.  Telling me the Lord is with me doesn't help.  I know He is there.

So, what do I need?  I'm not sure, but please do not make me cry publicly.  I hate that more than anything and if you love me, you know that.

I feel sad and blah and discouraged.  So there's the honesty.  The truth I hide behind responsibility and an exterior emotional toughness.  The truth I would change if I could.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


When my dad can't get into his bank account online, why does he assume it's the bank's fault?  (3 times since June)

Why did my sister buy all the discounted movies in Walmart?  VHS, DVD... if you want some chances are they are in the back of my car.

When a student doesn't understand something I've taught (usually new to them), why do they assume I am a bad teacher?  It's already happened this week.

Why don't I like to clean the house, yet I like the result?  (okay that's a dumb question but it should be motivation, right?)

Why do smart kids refuse to ask for help?  (Come on - swallow your pride!)

These are just some of the questions I had this week... Anybody got answers?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


It's times like this when I wonder.

I think about them and wonder if I did enough.  Of course the answer is always no.  I didn't.  But on the other hand, if I had tried, the wedge between us would have grown.  Double-edged sword.  No matter what, someone bleeds.

I think about her last days and minutes.  Was she in pain?  Did she know?  Did she suffer?  Did she try to get help?  Try to call out?  My guess is it all went too fast.  At least that is my prayer.

The wedge was large.  Very large.  I knew it was there but I didn't know how large it was.  I had my suspicions - all confirmed after it was too late.  And still the "if" weighs heavy on my heart.
If I had told her my concerns about her health.
If I had told her my suspicions about the house.
If I had expected truth.
If I had shown up unexpectedly.
In my heart, I know if I had followed through on all the "ifs", it would not have gone well.  Not at all.

Really, our father was our only thing in common.  We led very different lives.  Different values.  Different goals.  Different.

I try not to let my wonderings gather the dust of regret and guilt.  I try to shake it off but there is so much.  So what about grief?  I don't know if I can grieve her anymore.  So much of who I thought she was turned out not to be true.  So how do  you grieve lies?  Maybe that's the answer.  I grieve who I do remember.  I grieve the relationship I craved with both of them.  But that truly is too late because they are gone and I am here.

'Where to go from here?  I have my little family unit and family of in laws who love me.  We are open and honest with each other.  So, I think I don't go anywhere.  I stay here where I am loved, trusted, and safe.  I stay where I can feel the presence of God.

Still I'm sleepless tonight.  I'm restless but I am also grateful and have hope for the future.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Today I heard a message from a wise man.  It was on the transitions in our lives.  Something (well, actually many somethings) stuck with me through the day.

To have a beginning, something else must end.
He used an acrobat on a trapeze as an example... to grab the new bar, you must LET GO  of the old.
Letting go.  I do not do that well.  I want to hold on.  To so many things: control, anger, fear, ... Change? Um. No.

There are so many things I want to write, but this is not the place.  Those things.  They are too private.  Too raw.  Too exposed.  They will be written in a private journal and at some point - when I am ready to LET GO - I will destroy them.

Right now I will hold on.  Maybe I will allow the Lord to loosen my fingers from the old bar and guide me to the new one.  I know He will  not let me fall because He will catch me.  He knows my fear and doubts.  He knows my concerns.  He loves me and wants me to heal and to have joy.

That brings me to something else.  Joy.  I have always always struggled with joy.  Happy I can do.  But joy... I don't have a fountain of it bubbling inside me.  I never have.  So still I wait.  Maybe when I can LET GO and grab that new bar, it will be there waiting on me.

Transition.  Caterpillars do it all the time.  Maybe I can too.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A new normal

It has been six weeks since my sister passed away, five since her life was celebrated in a beautiful service.

Finally, I think I know what normal will be like.  I will be in frequent contact with my father, talking about his needs.  I'll make more frequent trips to visit him.  I will feel welcome in his home, where I did not before.  Not because of him, but because of my sister.

I am not going to bash my sister.  She is in a better place and nothing I can say will ever improve our relationship, but the truth was our relationship was clouded by her mistrust of me.  Truth revealed to me over the last six weeks proved what I had suspected - we did not know each other.  I did not know the secrets that dominated her life and she did not know my heart.

The questions I have make me wonder if I did my part in trying to help her.  What did I do to make her not trust me with the truth?  Am I feeling guilt?  I don't think so.  I think it is more regret and sadness over what could have been.  But I do what I always do: pick up pieces and clean up the mess.  What is left right now the Lord has given me the tools to manage and doesn't feel as overwhelming as it did June 12.

So what now?  To quote a song I love:

"Many things about tomorrow,
I don't seem to understand.
But I know Who holds tomorrow,
And I know Who holds my hand."

And so blogosphere I sign off with this:  I do not know how people live without hope in Jesus Christ.  His death and life after death is what gives me assurance my Heavenly Father knows me, cares about me, and hears my prayers.  When it is my turn to be in His presence, I know it will be something I did not deserve and could not earn.  I will be there because HE wants me there.  He wants you there, too.  Believe.  Confess your sin.  (I have to daily.) Accept His forgiveness and grace.  Be in relationship with Him.  In the end, that is all which really matters.

Monday, June 30, 2014

A couple of commandments

I'm a Christian and I'm proud of it.  I believe the whole Bible.  If you have a problem with that, you are excused.  If you are okay with me interpreting a couple of commandments, then hang around, you might learn something.

First, do not lie.
Left off of the commandment are conditions for lying like inserting the words "but" or "except."  Just don't.  Don't put it there.  Do not try to justify your untruth to me or God or anyone else.  Stop it.

Why?  Lies hurt.  Now, I am not perfect.  Have I lied?  Yep.  In my lifetime, the lies told about me by my family have hurt.  I recently discovered I was not only lied to, but lied to for years.  Deception - intentionally concealing a truth.  A truth that I must now pay for.  After the first lie that I had to deal with, I decided to be as honest as I could humanly be.  I am blunt.  I am not cruel.  I tell the truth.

Second, honor your parents.
Now my interpretation is this.  Moses had a bunch of people traveling through the desert.  Old people travel slowly and it would be awful tempting to leave them at the last camp out and move on.  God said not to leave them.  Bring them along.  The elderly deserve to be provided for.  Even though I have disagreed with many actions of my parents, I decided prayerfully a LONG time ago to provide for their needs and not leave them in the desert.  Whatever version of the desert we have in 21st century America.

The commandments can be summarized into two points: love God and love each other.  Lying is not loving.  Leaving your parents to die in the desert is also not loving.

Someone out there in cyber-land is thinking I am a very angry woman.  You could say that.  I would agree with you.  And here is my last point:  anger is not a sin.  There are many warnings in the Bible about sin that can occur when you are angry and I have to really watch myself.  God is angry at times.  Jesus was angry in the temple.  Anger is a God-given emotion and it can be productive.

I am going to end with this: the Lord of the universe loves me and you enough to let us learn lessons from Him and each other.  Not all lessons are easy or very palatable.  Some cause anguish... but joy comes in the morning.

I am waiting for that morning.  The Sonrise will be glorious.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Getting to Know my Sister (Differently)

It's been eight days since I found out my only sibling had died.

It has been a whirlwind of clean up and meetings and parent and pet management.  Travel.  Lots of travel between my home and hers.  After a few days, I was able to sleep again at night.  Eating isn't a problem - so don't worry about that.  I'm a stress eater :)  On the plus side, I lost 5 lbs this week.

Planning a service. Trying to decide what needs to be handled when.
As a very task-oriented person, that part of it isn't too overwhelming.  It's just the quantity of what needed to be done.

The stressful part of this:  meeting new people.  As an introvert, that is particularly difficult for me.  As the sister of someone who had a bubbly, vibrant personality, it was more difficult.  My sister and I are very different in how we interact with people.  On my drive to her town, I started getting cryptic messages from her friends via facebook.  My stress level rose.  Not only had I just lost my only sister, I was worried about how her friends perceived me.

I prayed a lot.  I need to be salt and light.  I need to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  But what I needed was to receive salt, light, and the hands and feet of Jesus.  I lost my mother 10 years ago.  She had been very sick, so I was able to prepare (as much as you can) and was not surprised at her death.  The death of my 44 year old sister was a shock.

But what I found were people who accepted me because I was the sister of someone they loved very much.  Some of them have actually talked with me and could accept what I needed to say. They loved her so much they filled the funeral home chapel.  So I'm going out on a limb, and it feels pretty shaky, and going out with her friends.

I want to know the Natalie they knew.