Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Year Ago Today

I lost my big sister Judy to her fight against cancer.  She fought hard & for a year.  So brave, so strong, so amazing.

The 2nd & last time I was able to see & visit my sister

Sadly we didn't know one another growing up, we had different mothers.  She grew up in southern California with our two brothers, and I grew up in Washington where I was raised an only child for most of my life.  I was to gain step-siblings from both my parents, but the one set were nearly mom's age, and the other I wasn't to meet until I left home at 17.

Judy & I first met at the same time I met my eldest brother, in Alaska when our father passed away.  I was 29 years old, Mike was 39, and then Robert & Judy each several years younger than Mike.  She had the biggest, brightest smile.  I loved seeing her smile.  I loved that our hair was very similar, that she and I wore the same size shoes even though I was a few inches taller.  That we both so deeply loved our children.  That we loved teasing our brothers and cousins as often as possible.

There is so much I'd say to her given the chance.  I wasn't able to get down to Arkansas and say goodbye and it hurt...still hurts so much.  To say I wish I could have gone isn't going to be any where near good enough to cover how I feel about not getting to go.  I wish I'd called her more often and gotten to know one another better.  I used to write her in the beginning, but life for both of us kept us so busy and the letters trickled off.

The visit from the photo above was a good one.  Two of my daughters were able to be there and meet their aunt Judy and in particular one of them became quite attached to her.  Both adored her, but my youngest was drawn to her aunt Carmen at the time; both girls spent hours talking to their respective favored aunt.  I loved seeing that.  My childhood is colored with love due in a very huge part to my aunts, they remain a true blessing to me, and my kids hadn't had that particular blessing in their own lives as I had, knowing close family so well, being surrounded, loved, and supported by them.

Today my nieces are struggling with memories, missing their mom, trying to get through this day without being able to hear her voice telling them she loves them.  I know that pain as I have lost my dad, ten years and it's still mostly raw, filled with longing to call and hear that voice tell me every little thing is going to be okay.  I want to buy Old Spice and a flannel shirt, spray it and curl up with it.  I'm sure the girls each have certain things that strongly bring back all the good memories, and I hope & pray each of them feel their mama's love today, wrapping them up tight and letting them know she's with them.  I hope my brother-in-law also feels her love that way.  He is in Arkansas, one of the girls in Arizona, and two in Idaho.  For her granddaughter, who is still so very young, I hope she feels her grandma's love & that her own mama & aunt can help her today.  I hope they call one another and share the ache to make it more bearable.

Most of all I wish them love.

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