Saturday, December 22, 2007


It was 26 years ago last month when my sister died a violent and unnecessary death.

I usually get through the anniversary of that sad day all right. Sometimes, especially when Christmas is on a weekend, I even get through the entire season without disabling sadness. Year in and year out, the Saturday before Christmas is the toughest. That is the day our Dad would always take us together to do our Christmas shopping. For reasons I don't completely understand, today is one of the all time toughest Saturdays.

We were only 15 months apart in age. We were the middle two children. We had friends in common. We even did our early years of college at the same university.

Our interests were always far different. She had talent and intellect so obvious and powerful that I could only marvel at its force. She was also cursed with an artist's temperament. It was often my role to calm her down.

An athlete and an artist, she was a magnet for men, some decent, some grifters and some just plain evil. She had a very difficult time telling the difference. Through it all, we could always talk about it. Our conversations, however heavy, would invariably end with us both laughing about some damn fool thing we had done as children.

Then, in a blur, there was the interrupted meeting, the Sangamon County coroner telling me I was needed in Chicago, the sick and desolate drive from Springfield to her home town, the identification, the extraordinary kindness of the two assigned detectives, the courtesy crime scene walk-through, the autopsy, the two motherless children, the terrible, empty funeral and the certainty that I would see the unrelenting pain in our mother’s face as long as she might live.

The details of this ugly chapter are not the point. Time does not "heal all wounds". I promise you, that is a crock. On the bad days, like today, the loss is just as real and just as painful-- in some ways even more so-- as in 1981.

I choose to talk about it today not as therapy for myself. It does not help a damn bit. Instead, I use it as a launch pad to urge you to extend your hand to your siblings and anyone who grew up with you as part of your nuclear family. You never know when your opportunity will be gone. I can tell you that there is not much I wouldn't give to have just a short visit with the other middle sibling who walked through life with me then left it far too soon.

Enjoy your brothers and sisters. Believe me, you do not know what you have until it is gone. Pick up the phone! Take over a six pack! Get the cousins together to play! Connect!


At 4:28 AM, December 23, 2007, Blogger Allthenewsthatfits said...

My condolences, and thanks for the important reminder to cherish those who are with us.

At 5:35 AM, December 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Truer words were never spoken.


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