Friday, November 8, 2013

Gratitude for Sisters

Life is Good: our memories fill us up

Month of Gratitude, Day Eight

Today is a tough one for me, I'll admit. Today is my sister's birthday. Each year, my aim and goal is to celebrate her life. Since I've been an adult, I've used her birthday to do something good for the world. I've worked with young children and battered women, collected gloves and hats for those who have none, I've worked on a house for Habitat for Humanity, packed meals for the truly starving, and more. And that feels good. But to be perfectly honest, it's hard work celebrating someone you miss so desperately. It's hard work keeping a smile on your face while thinking of all of the moments you didn't get to share, what might have been. And mostly, it's hard not to mourn when I think about my parents. They, too, must be feeling a rush of both celebration and pain. They always say that they want to celebrate her birthday and remember all of the great memories. But I know it is not that easy.

So today, I am grateful for my sister. I only got a handful of years with her. But my memories are vivid. And I thank God for that. I remember so much of what life was like when I was so little. I remember everything from vacations and boating on the weekends to endless piano playing and eating apples on a newspaper placemat at the dining room table. I can see the (sassy) sparkle in her eye. I remember her vibrant energy. And her sweet, pure, soprano voice.

Both my sister's death and her life have affected me. And I am grateful for that, too. Her passing solidified my parents' faith. It was an anchor for mine.

I am grateful for girlfriends whom I love like sisters. No, it's not the same. But they are as close to a sister as I have on this Earth and I cherish them. I am so grateful that they love me despite all of my wounds and flaws. And I am grateful for extended family who feel closer than the bloodline dictates.

And I am grateful for those, over the years, who have not forgotten my sister. Friends and family who remember her birthday, classmates who have sent cards or flowers to let my parents know she has not been forgotten. It means so very, very much to my parents. It warms my heart. 

Mostly, I am thankful that I had someone in my life worthy of tears. Tears mean that someone mattered. Tears mean that they touched your heart. Tears mean that they left an imprint on your life. So I will smile and remember Barbies and choir practice and making slushes in the blender. I will say prayers of thanks and gratitude. I will hug my children tightly and be grateful for every breath with them. And if the tears come, I will be grateful for them and what they represent---my sister and the impact she made on our lives.

This is one of those posts that feels a bit too personal. I hesitated to post it. But I need for my children to understand this piece of me. This post barely brushes the surface, but it is a little something. And I need to acknowledge this day. A day full of blessings and yes, some sadness, too. I told myself when I made this blog public, that I would always be real and be an open book. So this post is keeping with that. I'm sorry that it isn't uplifting. I always aim to be positive with a smile on my face. But we all have hurt and most of us have someone we miss in our lives.

“... it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things.” (Arthur Schopenhauer)

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