My sister died last month and I didn’t tell anyone. At first, it just hurt too much, and I wasn’t ready to talk about it. Then two days later I was in labor, and by the end of the week I had this beautiful, amazing, exhausting bundle of joy that I was all too happy to focus all of my energy and attention on, especially if it meant forgetting about the wound that Tracy’s passing had gouged in my heart.
I remember a time when I was grieving a different loss. My first marriage was coming to an end. I had grieved the loss of my husband for a long time at that point, but had just come to grips with the fact that it meant I would also lose my job (my absolute passion in life), my home, and many other people that were family to me. I remember sitting on the floor of my classroom during fall break, sobbing, feeling that I was losing everything that mattered to me, and worse still, that I had brought it upon myself.
I remember talking to Tracy about it, especially about the feeling that I was losing my entire family, and I remember her response: We will always be sisters.
Always seemed like a very long time then, and I was grateful for the promise of it. But barely a year later I found myself sitting on the side of the road, crying, as I heard the inevitable bad news: Stage IV Colon Cancer.
It’s funny, because until that point, I believed I had learned the hard, valuable lesson of letting things go. Of trusting God’s plan, and knowing that there were better days and better things in store. But when I heard those words, I was suddenly back at ground zero: Not her. You can’t have her, too. You promised (ok, ok, she promised) we’d be sisters forever. I was supposed to get to keep her.
I didn’t share these thoughts with anyone. They sounded pretty fatalistic to immediately follow diagnosis, but I guess I was fresh off the pain of losing another dear friend to cancer just a couple years prior.
And here we are again. I didn’t get to keep her. She wasn’t promised to me, or her parents, or even her husband. The truth is that nothing in this life is promised to any of us, except for the hope of better things to follow.
Sounds a little hollow, doesn’t it? Like, what better things could possible follow Tracy’s death? But I have to believe it – she would want me to. So I’ll just close with this verse from Romans, which she so often reminded me of when I was in no state to believe it: