As some of you know my younger (and only) sister lost her battle to cancer October 18, 2015. Despite us all knowing we would get that phone call, nothing can prepare for the feelings that flood in. You think you are prepared, but you can never be. I am a bit late posting this, I wrote it and let it sit in my drafts for awhile. .
March 6th would have been my sisters 47th birthday! For the past few weeks I have been up and down emotionally, although mostly down. Tears would start out of nowhere and I couldn’t stop them. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, be social or even leave my bed. I did the minimal to get through each day. With her birthday looming I wanted to do something special for her but had no idea what. My sister was cremated and her remains were split up and her daughters each got a memorial of their choosing with some of her ashes inside. Then the rest was split up and half was sent to myself and the other half to our brother.
I have had her ashes still in the box that my niece shipped them. I wanted to get an urn and have over the past few months searched and searched online but never settling on one that truly was worthy of her memory. So last week I sat and scrolled through literally hundreds of urns, all different styles, sizes, and made from different materials. I finally found one that I could customize and thought it fit perfectly.
I counted this as a positive step in my grieving process. Grief is not easy and it is so different for everyone. I have always considered myself a pretty strong person who looks at things realistically and logically. But this, this is so different and I feel so out of control since the tears can spring up in my eyes for no outward reason other than I thought about her. I miss her terribly and daily I just want to pick up the phone and call her. To share something that happened or just to bullshit on the phone. She always knew how to make me laugh. She also knew the right things to say to me when I was feeling stressed and conflicted.
I recall the last time I saw her in person as we were all leaving her house after a week long visit to see her right after she went on hospice. Everyone hugged her and said their goodbyes and each person left as they said their goodbye. It was my turn, I didn’t want to leave, but we had to get on the road to drive the 18 hours home. JR had to work and we hadn’t left much buffer time. As I got closer I felt the lump in my throat starting to feel as if it would just explode. I could barely swallow. There were so many things I needed and wanted to tell her. I hugged her and held her close and I started to cry. She was comforting me and telling me it’s okay and that she was okay with everything. She told me how proud she was of me and that I was a good mom. She could tell I was a good mom because my kids were a testament to that. She told me to never let anyone tell me I wasn’t worth it. She loved my husband and told me how glad she was that I found someone who treated me with respect and unconditional love like he did.
I didn’t want to let go, but we had to. By this time we were both crying but she still had this look that told me to go, and everything would be okay. We told each other that we loved each other and I turned to go. I couldn’t look back…it hurt too much. I just knew it was the last time I would see her alive.
We talked on the phone every few days during the few months before she passed. Towards the end she had days where she was just too out of it or in too much pain to talk. I would just call and tell her that I loved her.
Fast forward to Saturday, 4 1/2 months after she passed away. I wanted to honor her life but still was having trouble being so sad every time I thought of her. A good friend and I were chatting via Facebook chat while I was sitting in the high school parking lot waiting for my son to get back from a band competition. I mentioned how I wanted to do something to celebrate my sisters birthday the next day. What she said was like an epiphany for me. She said, “she probably cries every time you do, so I think you better think about that, you can’t have her crying all the time.” I thought about this and it really hit me that she was so right, my sister would be upset if I was sad all the time. She didn’t want us to mourn her passing. I remembered then the words she said when we visited in person, that she didn’t want us to all sit around and cry over her death, but to celebrate her life! She wanted everyone to have a party to eat, drink and tell their own funny ‘Tobi’ stories!
So I decided that we would sprinkle a little of her ashes in our perennial garden. She always wanted to visit me here. We even discussed her possibly moving out here to be closer to me and my family. We made lots of plans, how we would get together for coffee and have sister night where we would just hang out over some tequila shots and just talk and laugh.
We honored her by sprinkling some of her ashes into our perennial garden, releasing balloons and my amazing husband read a beautiful poem to her. We also had a dinner of her favorite foods…KFC chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy. I felt closer to her and even felt some relief and hope that she was with us and comforting us.
We miss you and love you so much Tobi! We will honor you everyday by being kind, generous and helpful. Just like you always were when you were here. I can’t wait to take you on trips with us and leave some of your ashes wherever we travel to. Happy Birthday sweet angel!!