My sister died on December 31, 2010 although the doctor’s report says she was pronounced dead on January 1, 2011. It’s just that there wasn’t a neurologist at the Cardiac ICU that night; he got there the next morning. I watched him run through his tests for signs of life in my sister and I could see there weren’t any. He said there was no choice that she had to be taken off of all the machines because she was dead. The respirator was moving lungs that did not breathe.
Sometimes death comes quietly and sometimes horrifically. My sister actually fell asleep and didn’t wake up, it was peaceful for her. Waiting for and watching the doctor proclaim her dead, was horrific and unreal for me.
My sister is gone and it is still unreal. I keep thinking she’s here because it makes no sense for her to not be.
I can’t really imagine how her 12-year-old son feels.
When my parents died, it was unreal and I didn’t want it to be so, but they were older and I knew they’d die ahead of me. Not so with a sibling. So, I can’t imagine what my nephew is going through.
I sometimes feel like I will throw up. I sometimes feel as if I will start to cry and never stop. I sometimes feel as though I will faint. I sometimes want to scream at the top of my lungs. And, I wanted to be mad at someone; I want it to be someone’s fault.
At what I call the “wake” and they called the “visitation,” maybe it’s a Southern thing, I went up to my nephew who had been in a receiving line for about an hour, to see how he was holding up. I gave him a hug and asked him how he was doing. He sort of shrugged and then he said, “A million of these hugs equal one of hers.” I was awed. He was comforted himself on probably, and hopefully, the worse day of his own life. And his one little sentence was so uplifting to me. I said to myself I must remember this.
When he was complaining about my siblings and not wanting them to participate in this good-bye ritual, I said, “How ‘bout some forgiveness? They have lost their sister and they are devastated.”
My nephew said, “Well, maybe I don’t know because I don’t have any brothers or sisters.”
I keep thinking he is the last of my sister I’ll ever get to experience while I’m living. I don’t want to miss out on having the last of her with me. And, I don’t know how he came out so amazing, insightful, and kind. I just hope that he never loses that better part of himself – whether or not it is rooted in my sister or not.
I have studied and worked on changing my basic character for over 9 years now – in order to stay sober and to help other people do so too. I often fall back into my defects. I, then, have to start again and pray for the Will of God to be shown to me and for the Grace of God for me to embrace that will. I still have such a long way to go and I will never be done.
Yet, my nephew is the person I want to be just by birth and innocence.
I want to love and respect that forever, not only for my own growth and because he is so special to me, but also because, without him, my sister’s death would be beyond my ability to continue living. I don’t have any excuse to be that selfish; it’s just that my grief is so overwhelming at times. But I have so many reasons to live on and try to change and make a better life for me and others.
And, my nephew needs to be at the top of that list of reasons. He has so much to teach me yet.