Loss & Remembering

A Letter to Self – Oh, lovely self, my faith, and hope have been tested – my sanity probably more than faith and hope melded together and duplicated ten-fold. Stepping back in time, I still vividly remember sister Vicki’s last days.  Sandy and I watched her intensifying pain and admired the unlimited amount of love and compassion she expressed to those she was about to leave behind: her daughters, her grandchildren, her sisters, and friends.

I clearly remember watching her slowly slip away – such devastating loss blended with the joy of her finally being released from her pain. The entire day felt like a massive cyclone of the good, the bad, and the ugly had occurred. Looking back, I sensed the beauty of her last few moments. She was so full of love.  Sandy and I shared Vicky’s last moments, honoring her promise that we should not mourn her death, but rather celebrate her life.  she would always be in our hearts. She promised she would visit us in our dreams, and she would always be in our hearts. Despite our grief, Sandy and I stood strong knowing we would never really lose Vicki.

Little did I know another horrible moment was brewing in the darkness.  About one month after Vicki passed, my second sister Sandy was diagnosed with terminal cancer that had spread throughout her body. For over a month, I watched over her as she bravely fought to live.  Yet, like Vicki, she lost the battle quickly – Sister Sandy left us.  She was such a shining example of strength because she always kept a smile on her face in order to give strength to her husband, daughters, son, sister, and grandchildren for what they would soon face.  I remember her talking silly, acting goofy, being funny, and as usual, being a bit sassy until the moment she quietly passed away.  My last sister was flying away to gently slip into a cradle of immense love.

At this point, I seriously needed to check out of reality.  My grief was intense; I allowed myself to simply “numb out.”  I hid under my cozy, safe, fuzzy blankets and intentionally blocked any feelings.  Numb felt great.  I needed safe – I needed time  – I needed to grieve.  So, I shoved my “heart” away and bedded down in my solitude, and mourned.

I’m thankful for life’s teachings, but damn, a crisis hit my soul when I finally consciously realized I was an orphan. Both parents gone – both siblings gone.  All my aunts have passed.  “We” became “I” in my vocabulary.

I started walking through hell, feeling the intense, fiery heat of rage, and eventually, I moved beyond it.  I came out the other side as a whole human being who no longer needed to numb. The gift was I learned I am not alone – I never was.  I learned to stop living as a victim; I stood up and faced adversity and found the beauty of beauty.  I took my loneliness, re-purposed its power, and began to walk down the healing path with wobbly feet.  I began to grow, slowly pushed through the numbness, and engaged in life again.

Sandy on Left, Mom in Middle, Vicki on Right

Both of my sisters’ spirits have become the wind, water, air, wood, and the fire that helped me survive each day.  I learned to love myself – that was the biggest life lesson I’ve ever learned.  Authentic love and acceptance of self do, in fact, free the soul.

The beautiful spirits of my sisters, Vicki and Sandy, continue to live within me. They guide me on my path to reach beyond the stars and all the way to the gates of heaven.

I can’t wait until we get to hug each other in heaven.

Dr. Deb