If you have a sibling, I sincerely hope you know what that means. It means that there is someone, in my case only one, who understands what it was like to grow up with the same set of parents in the same house and under the exact same set of circumstances. No one else can. It means that someone else knows all the inside jokes that you and your parents and sibling had and how much fun it is to recall them. It means you share the exact same crazy though lovable relatives, and that you share the exact same opinion of them. You can list idiosyncrasies of each one and love them all the more for having them. No one else can do that with you. It means someone else remembers the sound of our dad coming in the door after work and running to meet him and the sound of our mother’s voice calling us in from the neighborhood for the night. It means that for years and years you had the exact same food, sat together at the same table night after night, and can recite the same litany of dinner table conversations, while naming the top five most popular meals and desserts. No one else can. It means that the one person who can drive you completely mad can suddenly be your best friend in a nanosecond and defend you for what had angered them. No one else can. It means that if you don’t remember some piece of family folk lore or distant relative’s name, or where a certain vacation destination was exactly, there is someone who heard all the same stories you did, traveled to all the same places you did, and knows all the same distant relatives. That’s a sibling. No one else can. Having a sibling means that someone shares a huge part of your life and all that encompasses, sometimes no longer and sometimes still. Someone you trust. And taking his or her place? No one else can. Sharing all your memories? Absolutely, no one else can.
Last year on this date, October 27, I lost the only sibling I had, my younger sister. Even though she did not die suddenly, and her death was expected, I was in shock for quite awhile, more than when we lost our parents. With our parents, I had my sister to share both the grief and the memories I had. No one else could. She could help keep the younger version of my parents alive with me. Losing her was a blow that I didn’t see coming. She was younger, after all, and I always expected her to outlive me. I still feel that I have lost half of myself. It’s a lonely feeling, and despite the fact that I have two amazing and wonderful daughters who fill quite a bit of the void, it’s still lonely. It’s a particular kind of loneliness, but it settles in to stay awhile.
My sister left us too soon. She was too young. She left us, her husband, her children, a grandchild, nieces, an aunt, and others who loved her. Thank goodness our aunt is still with us. Those of us who were together with her those last few months share something “no one else can”, the memory of those months, the feeling of hopelessness, and the notion and grief that she was much too young to be leaving us.
To my sister, the one I wish would walk into this room right now, there is so much more I want to say, but the words simply won’t come. My grief is still too raw. I miss you terribly. I feel that half of me is lost, never to be found. I feel that you would know and understand exactly what I’m saying. No one else can, and I miss that most of all. I love you, and I would give anything to have you back with us. Did we always agree? Of course not! Did I sometimes want to tell you a thing or two? Of course. I’d give anything simply to argue with you one more time, my longing to have you back is so strong. I hope you have found the perfect place. I feel you at times, and I want to thank you for that. Those times comfort me. Be at peace, my sister. Be at peace. I want that for you. Do that for me.