unspoken words...


Psalm 31:9 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body{also}.




So much has come to my mind and heart in the last month, and I would abruptly think, why didn't I say that....  Did you ever notice that it seems when you get an opportunity to say anything you'd like, its at that moment that you become the most tongue tied or so overwhelmed with emotion?  I had just such an opportunity a month ago....  Since then, a hundred thoughts have come to my heart and I think, why didn't I share that?  


I woke up today and I felt an overwhelming sadness.  I've had this feeling a lot in the last month.  You see, one month ago, I lost my sister, my friend, my confidant...  As often happens, we didn't (or couldn't) face the seriousness of her illness and didn't get the chance to say goodbye. When given the chance to speak at her memorial, I was overcome with grief, and in trying to share, felt that I left so much unspoken....


Six months ago, when she first learned that cancer had returned, I sent a card of encouragement.  When she first learned that she had cancer, one of her primary concerns was for a little boy she loved very much.  His name is Logan, and just a few short months ago their adoption of Logan became final.  She had often said, "He needs me."  In my card, I reminded her that she was my big sis, and I needed her, too. 


Growing up and even grown up, we were so different from one another.  Her hair was curly and she kept it short to reduce the curl.... I wore mine long and paid good money to buy some curls.  I never left the house without my makeup to look good... She never wore any and always looked good.  As children we fought like siblings do.  As adults we bonded in a way that only sisters can.


Growing up, we divided the room with tape down the middle to mark our territory.  Grown up, we  united and supported one another as only sisters can.  Her home was always open and after my divorce she took me in whenever I needed a place to stay.  When I divorced, she sent me a card that read. "I have mixed feelings about your divorce...I'm glad if you're glad, I'm sad if you're sad."  She include a note of encouragement and reminded me to look on it as a new beginning.  I had chosen to move thousands of miles away.  She wrote, "Can't wait to come & visit you."  Through the magic of email, we talked several times a week.  She learned she had cancer while I was living there and she never got to come visit me.


Years ago, when my sis still lived in the old hometown, her place seemed to be Grand Central Station.  Seemed like everyone "touched base" with her, either in person or by phone.  She always knew everything that was going on it seemed.  We joked, "Telephone, telegraph, tele-Diana."  Yet, I was never afraid to tele-Diana my deepest secrets and heartaches, because all I had to do was say, "Don't tell" and my secrets never passed through the station.  


After my injury, she was the first person outside of my immediate household that I trusted to my care.  She had worked for years as a CNA mostly in the field of geriatrics.  After my injury, it was easy to see why her patients loved her so much.  She was always helpful without being overbearing.  She was the first to encourage me to start getting out and about.  She would say, "I'll come get you and take you to church....It's no trouble."  Even recently when I came home from Chicago for the Mother-Daughter banquet at church, she picked me up at the hotel and we spent the afternoon shopping together so I didn't have to spend the afternoon in the hotel.  She never came empty handed.  She always had something she'd found at a craft or garage sale that she just knew I was going to love, or perhaps it was fresh stew she'd just made, or her great pizza bread....  She always had that  smile that was fresh and child-like when she knew she had pleased me. 


Mid-summer, as I scurried home from the local Dairy Queen on my scooter, I remembered our family all getting together for homemade ice cream.  I recalled her sharing with my children how, as kids, we fought for the ice cream paddle.... I quickly sent her a notice of reminiscence and included some cash.  I said, "Since I can't be there, have some ice cream and think of me."  I spoke to her a couple days later, having not expected her to have received the card yet.  She began to share about how the radiation was affecting her stomach and she couldn't eat anything but cold things.  I couldn't help but smile as I felt a connection, a link, a bond.  How did I know at that moment, to send her that kind of note?  She then said she had gotten my card and had already had an Oreo blizzard on me!


That's the way it was.  Even when we were separated by miles, our hearts were still connected...


When I received the call that her condition was deemed terminal... six months....scheduling hospice... it seemed so unreal.  I wanted to rush right out the door... I wanted to sit down and pretend the call had not come...  The next day, I tried to convince myself to go.... I tried to convince myself to stay that there was lots of time...  When the inner battle of disbelief was done, I hurriedly found an outbound train and made a reservation.  I had less than an hour to pack and be on my way to the train station.  On the three hour train ride, I thought of other times I'd taken the train home, or to Wisconsin to my son's.  Those times, there was joy at the other end, like grandchildren waiting for me or a special family gathering.  This trip was different.  It held an air of sadness that I knew I would never forget.


I  went straight to her bedside.  She was alert, but weak and struggling for breath.  Oxygen tried to ease the affects of pneumonia that medication couldn't overcome.  I reached out to hold her hand, and through the mask, she said, "Where have you been?" I  wanted to say that my hearts been right here with you, but the words would not come as I fought back tears.  There's time, I told myself. 


Before I left a couple hours later, we all joined hands and I prayed.  I asked God to be with her and to give her peace. I asked Him to be with her husband and children to give them strength and courage, to give the doctors and nurses wisdom and compassion.  


I told her that I loved her and promised to be back tomorrow morning.  I planned to stay in town that whole week and anticipated that we'd have lots of time to catch up.


Tomorrow never came.  


A couple hours later, when I got the word that she was gone, there was almost a feeling of disbelief... At first I felt numb...  I tried to get through the week.  I did the things I needed to do.  I took food to her house for the family.  I shopped for clothes to wear for the funeral as I hadn't packed anything appropriate; that she would die was unthinkable!  I tried to think of those friends who should be called.  I wept.


Somehow I made it through the week.  At her service, I shared how as children we had fought, but how all through life she always stuck up for me and protected me.  There was so much more, but the words wouldn't come....


She left behind a husband who loved her, four children, four grandchildren, a son-in law, two daughters-in-law, five sisters and six brother... and we all had many unspoken words. 


I came home on Saturday after the funeral and by Sunday the reality had hit.  My allergies had kicked into high gear and I was sick.  I would wake up and cry, so I would close my eyes tight and fall back asleep.  Then I would wake up and cry some more, then I would close my eyes tight and fall back asleep again.  I didn't get out of bed until 3 in the afternoon. 


The next week, I was trying to sort through some memorabilia I had in boxes and transfer this stuff to totes for preservation....  Glancing at cards, the first one I happened to pick up was an old valentine.   Long forgotten, I picked it up and began to read:



"There was a time
when having a sister meant
sharing your toys,
your parents,
and sometimes your dessert.
Sisters always found out
your most secret secrets
and whether you liked it
or not
you would usually receive
their advice
Now that we're older
and Valentine's Day
is approaching,
I feel like you can handle the truth..
Sis, it wasn't half as bad
as I let on!

Happy Valentine's Day
Love, Diana


It was almost like she was there beside me and in spirit I know she always will be.  I know that God chose to ease her pain, but it was much sooner than we expected.  


There's so much I wish I could have said to her.  I wish we'd had more time...





If You're Ever Going To Love Me.... 

If you are ever going to love me,
love me now,
while I can know the sweet and tender feelings 
which from true affection flow.
Love me now while I am living.
Do not wait until I'm gone
and then have it chiseled in marble,
sweet words on ice-cold stone.
If you have tender thoughts of me,
please tell me now.
If you wait until I am sleeping,
never to awaken, there will be death between us,
and I won't hear you then.
So, if you love me,
even a little bit,
let me know it while I am living
so I can treasure it.

 Author Unknown