The weather lately has been inconsistent and unpredictable. Like the billowing grey clouds and harsh warm rains that have fleetingly swept across the typically blue summer skies, my life has seemed to mirror the unsteady climate.
Just as I felt I was beginning to master the waning whirlwinds of transition, the resurgent waves of life events struck again, rocking me wild and ragged. The steady schedule I sought so hard to set came apart at the seems as trip after trip seeped into my calendar and happenings out of my control played out before me.
My age and distance from home struck me as I sat alone watching a video of my youngest sister giving a high school graduation speech in June. Although I beamed with pride at the accomplished young woman on the screen in front of me, a bittersweet sadness set in as I recalled all the youthful moments we spent together growing up that had now turned into mere memories to look back on.
As time has proven, with age and developing identities we have begun to go on diverging paths which is both exciting and elusively isolating. The days of performing plays and playing pirates in the backyard are over, but I cling to hopes of future endeavors to pull me from the realms of reminiscing. I can’t wait to see what my sister has yet to conquer. She has already done so much and I often brag about the fact that she has earned a black belt in TaeKwonDoe, a certification in scuba diving, and two athlete of the year awards for soccer and track. Despite the states that will lie between us, I hope I can continue to support her and my other sister as they embark on their dreams.
My sisters mean the world to me and sometimes I struggle to state such significance in words.
The presence of life itself dissipated into thin wisps of fragile air as I stood by helplessly and lost a woman who raised me to the cruelties of cancer.
One day I was speaking with her on her home phone, the next she was in the hospital and the next she was in Hospice waiting peacefully for her time to come. The speed of it all was startling. Yes, she had cancer, but she had beaten it twice before. I was supposed to see her at my sister’s graduation party. I was supposed to hug her tight and feel her warm, loving body pressed reassuringly against mine in a matter of weeks. The plan was to meet in NY in July. But plans don’t always pan out. From her passing I have been reminded of this. I have been harshly awakened to the precious commodities that constitute living.
Although Dawnie was not biologically related to me, she gave me love, support and nourishment that have contributed to what I know as happiness, success and belonging. Others may only understand her as being my babysitter when I was younger, but she was so much more than that. She was like a third grandmother to me who maintained a strong presence in my life throughout the years. Even though I didn’t get to hold her in my arms one more time, her spirit will remain with me through the waft of apple cinnamon candles, the gooey sweetness of fresh monkey bread and the creative details of homemade cards.
I admit the death of a loved one is jarring and painful and heart-wrenchingly saddening, but those who endure it gain a heightened sense of what remains… the settings, items, relationships and moments that string together to make our lives rich. While waves of grief still strike, I am also caught up in peaks of joy while toasting s’mores with my family around a campfire, belting out songs on the radio with friends, swaying solo in a hammock reading, and taking the time to reflect on it all.
The tides of time will continue to twist and turn and throw me about, but such turbulence is life, precious, unpredictable, savory life.