It’s a bitter cold, dreary and rainy type of day here in the South.
I went about my regular routine this morning getting ready for work. As I was throwing the load of towels into the dryer on my way out of the door, my daughter called. Her sweet, soft voice came over the speaker. She knew what day it was for me; my sister’s birthday. Normally this is a happy occasion, and I’m sure it is with the angels gathered around in Heaven singing her a heavenly “Happy Birthday.” Down here on Earth, though, our hearts still yearn for her.
It has now been 18 years that I’ve gone through the motions of this day. It should be second nature by now to remember her silently, then go about my day. Right?
We can’t help but think of 18 years that she should have been here with you. Eighteen years of memories that you and your children should have been able to make with her gathered around at every occasion. When my parents come through the door for the holidays in a few weeks, my sister should be right behind them with the biggest smile on her face.
Eighteen years without her laughter … without her mischievous grin … without her doing sweet gestures “Just because.”
Yes, we have the memories that we cling to … and I treasure each and every one. We have pictures, although if I had known her life would be cut short, I would have taken a thousand more to hold and flip through … on days like this.
These days are known to my family as “tender days.” It’s a phrase the suicide survivor’s group passed down to us. Tender days consist of our loved ones birthday, the anniversary of their passing, holidays, and any other special occasions that they should have been present for … but aren’t.
Darkness could so easily slip in at a time like this. It’s when you really have to fight it, and fight with all you’ve got inside of you at times.
I honestly thought I was doing okay until last weekend at the annual Angel of Hope Vigil when tears stung my eyes, then became a never ending river flowing down my cheeks. For the past ten years, my family and I have attended this ceremony to remember all of the children (regardless of age) that left this world way too soon. I purchased a plaque on the wall behind the angel a few years ago in order to allow another place to “visit” with my sister. It was hard for my parents to visit the cemetery, and honestly, for me as well. So, the Angel provides another sacred area to pay tribute and honor to my sister.
She’s so much more than the way she died. That’s what I want everyone to “get.”
She’s the joy she brought to so many that came to know her. While quiet and shy at first, she became a little more outgoing the more she felt comfortable in your presence. Then, watch out because the prankster might reveal itself. She’s the sweet tokens of love she’d leave under the table cloth for me to find after she left my house … I’ll never forget the Valentine’s gifts she hid for me under that table. She placed them under there when she visited, and she called a few days later to say, “Hey, how about go look under that table cloth and tell me what you see …”
And so I remember those little things even more so today … and carry them with me always. With every memory I have of her, I wish I had ten thousand more … but my time with her was cut short.
Now she’s in the arms of the angels … in the arms of God …