Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Private Memorial Day

One of the great things about living where I do, is its connection with my past. I was raised a nomadic Air Force brat. There was a home base, though, and it happens to be the house next door to mine. The house my mother was raised in; the house where my grandma still putters around making things bloom. It also is just a two block walk to the cemetery where my 'people' are buried; my grandpa, three cousins and my sister. Just before Memorial day, is the anniversary of her death. I don't always make the walk on that day, but it never goes by without some contemplation.

This year I was more aware than usual of the day approaching. It was going to be on a Sunday, just like the year she died. Saturday evening I slipped away by myself to the cemetery while the rest of the family played. As I walked, I was immersed in memories, flashes of feeling and snapshots from that time. Twenty two years ago is forever. How can it have been that long?

My feet crunched on gravel, and I remembered the shock of hearing that Sara was sick; my naive assurance that everything would be fine. (Isn't everything always going to be okay until it's not?) Those ten days of uncertainty, prayers, tests and overheard conversations with unfamiliar words like: tumor, malignant, stage 4, chemotherapy. I remembered the awkward visit to the university hospital. What was that tube in her wrist, with the halved Styrofoam cup keeping her hand level? We hadn't seen her since the day we found out she was sick. How different would my goodbye have been if I'd known it was the last time I would see her until her funeral?

I found her grave, and sat on the cool grass. I have no memory of being there on the day she was buried. I do remember the surreal feeling of excitement for my first ride in a limo, my abstract curiosity at the viewing; the alternating sensations that she was just on a trip and the crushing weight of loss.

I didn't understand at the time, but in the intervening decades this event has begun to make sense. I see the pattern that was still being woven back then. Sara took one for the team. Her death was the making of me, probably of all of our family. In taking her early exit, and I do believe that was part of her mission, she put the steel in my spine that gets me through hard times today. It cemented my own, personal faith.

I talked to her as I plucked the grass. I wondered aloud what her days are filled with. (Are there days in heaven?) I tried to imagine her grown, but I couldn't. She remains in my mind a newly-five blond pixie with mischievous eyes and a crinkly nose.

I asked her if she's okay. I know she is, everyone in heaven is, but it would have been nice to really FEEL it right then. I collected myself and stood to leave. I took one last glance at her grave and caught my breath. There, peeking up at me from the rose bush beside her marker, was a single pink bloom. Just one.
I picked it, and brought it to my nose. Sweet, but peppery too. Just like Sara. I walked home with a smile on my face, knowing she's just fine.

12 comments:

Tia Juana said...

What a lovely post.

Home of the Muddy Kids said...

Just the other day I was talking to the kids about her. I love how they act as though they know her through my stories. They busted up during the story of how she rescued Jason Thomas. They thought it was so cute when I told them about how she would run around the table every night when she was done with dinner. I tell them everything I can remember, which only seems like a few pieces now. They are so excited to play with her someday.

I know that without her leaving, I would never have felt that "little sister" hole, and I would never have gathered around me all the sweet little sisters as I have ever since. She really did make all of us, didn't she?

The Bloxham Bunch said...

I'm glad you had such a great experience. It is still hard for me to go to my parents & bro. & sis. I need to thing of the good times, not just that their gone. This was a great post, I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing!

MamaBird said...

What beautiful thoughts. Thank you for sharing them.

Michelle Stott said...

That was so sweet. Thanks for posting. I didn't remember you had a sister that passed away. Memorial day is a great day to remember our loved ones that have passed on.

...................................Kim.......................................... said...

Beautiful thoughts, your writing takes me there with you.

fivekidsandsomechocolate said...

Beautifully written.

Kimberly said...

I remember her hiding in the closet on the top shelf, and the picture she drew on the wall under the phone in the kitchen.

Her death changed my life, a bitter sweet reality. She certainly took one for the team. And all that knew her, are better for it.

Beautifully written, Missy, as always.

Jodi said...

Wow....that touched me deeply. When I come by and read things like this I actually get angry with myself for not taking more time to read others blogs. Life just gets so busy and just keeping mine semi-updated is about all I can do anymore. I think this post will change all that! Thank you...

Jewels said...

That was so lovely, I used to visit her grave quite regularly when I would go for walks. I did that all the way through high school actually. Because Sarah was my age, when she passed it hit me kinda hard. A kid, just like me... dying...It caused much thought. Plus I had thought that she was really cool too. For years I always missed her at the reunions because it was kinda lonely being the only girl my age... sometimes.

Abby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Abby said...

I loved every second of this, dearest. Thank you!