I'm avoiding writing. Yesterday and today. It's not even because I have nothing to talk about, well, yesterday I was drawing a blank. Unfortunately as soon as I climb into bed, my mind starts racing and I find all kinds of thoughts I can process out, but by then the computer was off and I was quite exhausted. The thought remains though and tonight, I'm avoiding it. I want/need to talk about my sister.
I miss my sister. Angela was one of those people in your life that is a constant. I always knew where I stood with Angela, she was never shy about asking me questions or giving me her opinion. I suppose in many ways, she was just your typical older sister, always looking out for me.
We weren't always together growing up. Our parents split when I was 11 and she was 14 - she left with Dad and I stayed with Mom. They moved halfway across the country and I missed her immensely even then. We stayed in touch. Weekly (at minimum) phone calls and bi-annual visits, it wasn't enough and we gradually grew farther apart. After Dad died, Angela didn't come back home very often. She came for my grade 9 graduation, for Mom's wedding and for my wedding. That was about it, but as an adult, I made it a point to get out to see her at least once a year. It still wasn't enough and we really didn't know or understand each other very well.
Angela was the favoured of our Dad, obviously. I could never measure up to her. She was athletic, fit, beautiful, confident, strong... She was, to my mind, the perfect woman. Her nickname was Angel, well, I knew better (little sisters do not always see the best in their older sister!), but most seemed to treat her as if she was an angel. I loved her, I admired her, I looked up to her, and I envied her. In fact, it wasn't until I graduated high school that I looked at our pictures that Mom had hung on the wall side by side and realized that I looked like Angela and therefore, I must be beautiful too. I always felt like the ugly duckling in her shadow.
In 1998 our brother, Cory, died and it set into motion a plan, on my end, to change the distance between us, literally and figuratively. I couldn't bear the thought that my last remaining sibling was such a stranger to me. Cory was one of my best friends, we enjoyed spending time together and talking on the phone. Angela remained an enigma. We had different personalities, different upbringings, different life perspectives.
I was dating M by then and things were pretty serious so we discussed it and decided that after we were married, we would move to live near Angela. It was a great plan, and a lousy one. In retrospect, I should have just moved immediately and let the relationship with M fall where it may, it might have saved me much pain but it would have lost me my boys, so.... I try my best not to play the "what if" game, some days that is more difficult than others. I stray off topic though.
We moved in 1999. We had no place to live so we stayed with Angela and her family for the first few months until we found an apartment. It was strange. Angela and I both wanted a friendship. We'd been working on building it since Cory died via telephone and my annual/semi-annual visits but it was strained and taxing. Imagine throwing two very different strangers into a room and expecting them to be instant best friends. Sometimes that can happen, but it's pretty rare and special when it does! It didn't happen for us. I was a newly-wed, we were both struggling but not really sharing with each other what was going on. We lived totally different lives but we didn't give up. We eventually found that common ground, we became best of friends.
We were able to grieve Cory together, to talk about him and share stories, to keep his memory alive. We were able to talk about our childhood and all the pains and angst, all the misunderstandings and false beliefs we had grown up believing about the other. We were able to laugh at the things we did together and remember the good times, as well as the bad. We were able to share with each other memories that the other had forgotten. We made new memories together.
Instead of annual visits, we had weekly or monthly visits. We talked regularly on the phone and were able to share family experiences. I went to her children's school & sports events, I cheered them on when she coached her youngest sons baseball team and sat beside her when her oldest son learned to play soccer and had a part in the school Christmas program. She came to the hospital to visit me when I was in labour with my first son and was one of the first to hold him after he was born. She was in church the day we dedicated his life to God and came to church events that I was singing in. We shared Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, birthdays, camping, boating, shopping, life. I am Godmother to her youngest son.
I miss sharing my life with her. Even now, 5 years after her death, there are days when I just want to pick up the phone and talk with her, to get her advice, to commiserate or vent, to have her just be there to share everything with! She's never met my youngest son. She was the first person I called after we found out we were pregnant with our first, and she never even knew I was pregnant a second time. I threw up four times a day during my first pregnancy, she told me she thought I had the flu the first 8 months. She only threw up 1x with each child, she would have been glad to know my second pregnancy was more like hers.
She loved playing with my baby. Angela loved babies, she had a knack of getting them to go to sleep in her arms. I found pictures the other day while unpacking of her and my eldest just laughing at each other. I love that I have pictures of her with him. She could pick up almost any baby and have it smiling at her in no time. She was a beautiful person, inside and out.
Her death seems senseless. God has used it for good, but I still can't wrap my mind around the reality that she is gone. She is though. Through no choice of her own, through no fault of her own, she is no longer here to share life with us, to love her children, to raise them or care for them, to battle for them. They are left with battle scars that no child should ever have to bear, I am left to struggle with why of the three of us I am the only one left standing.
I am the only one left standing though and I have promised to myself that they will not be forgotten. I tell my children about their Auntie Angela and their Uncle Cory. I have promised that I will tell their stories because if anything good can come out of their untimely and inane deaths it can only come if someone gives voice to their stories, to their lives. If the story of Angela's death saves one more person, then it, and she, continue to have value. If the story of Cory's death encourages one person to hold on for one more day, then it, and he, too continue to have value.
I am not my siblings. I cannot tell their story from a firsthand perspective, but I can tell it from my perspective. I can tell you the facts, and I can tell you how it affected me. I can only pray that is enough.
Their stories will come. The music will change and the song does not end in happily ever after... yet; but there is hope and where there is hope there is life. Where there is life there must be dancing.
God bless you!