I first met her when I was very young, and truly, we hit it off right away. We never fought – no petty jealousy; no fruitless competition. I was older, and she may have looked up to me a bit, but we solved our difficulties without effort and without drama.
I don’t know why she got spinal meningitis at 8, but we almost lost her – she dodged that bullet deftly; it wasn’t easy. In similar fashion, she survived the crash – black ice; he was driving too fast… When she finally left the hospital, crushed pelvis and all, they told her she could never have children. She had three. Then it was her back, raging early arthritis, other things. A divorce. There was a stroke. The pain got worse.
Somewhere in the middle of all this, she became the first female executive at Chrysler, but she gave it up for family. She ran a dealership, but gave that up to start a children’s theatre group – all the while finding time to be a good mother; all the while, still inexplicably looking up to me. It should have been the other way around – she accomplished things while I plodded through. While I under-achieved my way between the non-corporate and the mediocre, she excelled in ways that counted, and I was always so proud.
She’s dying now. She’s got cancer running throughout her body, and the treatments aren’t working, the side-effects have become her norm, and the torment is intense. So, we don’t talk as much as we’d like these days – she just isn’t able. But my head is filled with her spirit each day, and occasionally I wish I was one of those easy criers. I can’t escape that she is wasting away, and it’s killing me – slowly from the inside out, and the person I used to be before this, struggles to hold on to himself.
I don’t know how much time she will have, but it won’t suffice. I understand that I need to find a way to cope with that actual moment of loss. Barring an act of God, I’ll have to see her body inanimate and strange; watch as her casket descends. I’ll hear the dirt start to fill in as I walk away, brushing back a few tears that no one will notice. They’ll say I’m taking it well, or that I’m heartless, but they won’t see the emptiness. My sorrow already permeates and then swallows each piece of me – it tears at my soul and dares me to turn sour. My sadness begs for the right to blame God; implores me to become hardened to life and this unfortunate kamikaze justice. But I am astounded at the artistry of her dignity; the articulation of her grace, and I know how I must try to behave.
You see, I first met her when I was four. And she had only just arrived in this world. I remember when our eyes met for the first time, and I realized I would always love her. I vowed to be the best brother in the whole wide world, but I wandered away over the years, and that lofty vow went with me. Indeed, it was the other way around.
She will leave me soon. Oh, we’ll meet again – we share that belief. I’ll be seeing clearly then, and she will have no pain, and we’ll have so much to tell each other… Still, sometimes I can’t help but wonder why. But then, no one ever dies when we should – we pass instead, when we can. So, God speed, little sister. I’ll be lost, but I know you’ll find me. Soon…