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Passing Time With Her In Mind

Sister, I hear you laugh
My heart fills full up
Keep me please
Sister, when you cry
I feel your tears
running down my face
Sister, sister, you keep me.

– Dave Matthews, Sister
***
Had she lived, my sister Bessie would be celebrating her 29th birthday today.
I don’t talk about my sister a lot. Not because it’s too painful for me to talk about her, but because I don’t want to make people feel sad or uncomfortable. People don’t really know how to respond when I tell them I have a younger sister who died seven years ago. To be honest, I don’t feel that sad about it anymore. That might sound a little cold to you, but if you knew how sick she was and how she suffered through the last several months of her life, I think you’d feel the way I do. I’m sad she’s gone and I’m sad I won’t ever know what kind of woman she would have grown up to be, but I’m also very relieved she is no longer in pain.
The sadness I feel when I think of my sister is not of having lost her, but in the memories of her final days. I cannot tell you how painful it was to not be able to do anything but stand by and watch her suffer. The memory of my father breaking down at her bedside is still very raw. There was a look of helplessness and despair about him that I hope never to see again. It happened on the day she died, after having spent months in the hospital, having suffered through things unimaginable for someone so young including kidney failure and a stroke. Parents are not supposed to bury their children and I don’t know if anyone recovers from that kind of heartbreak. Those are the memories that bring on the blues when I think of my sister.
I worry sometimes that I’ll forget the details. I worry there may be things about her I’ve already forgotten. There are days I don’t think about her and I wonder if this means I’m a bad sister or someone who doesn’t care enough.
She was very pretty, very funny and very charming. She had a lot of energy. She liked hip hop, Adidas, and fixing up her car. She had tons of friends and they all loved her and loved being around her. Everyone did. She had a big smile and a big laugh and both were infectious. I miss that smile. I miss her.
***
Happy birthday, Bess.

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6 Responses

  1. Cristina says:

    Happy Birthday Bessie

  2. fabmimi says:

    Happy Birthday Bessie.
    I’m sure she is such an inherent part of you, that I miss her, too. for you.
    And wow, she is my age. Life is so precious.

  3. Brian J Que says:

    I remember her, or rather, I remember you blogging about her when she was sick… back in the old “Don’t bother the Barista” days. I was in New York doing med school at that time learning about the condition she had. If it means anything, it was those particular blogs, showing your passion and humility, which made me a fan of your site and have been a constant visitor ever since =) I wish you and the family the best as well as a blessed birthday for Bessie.

  4. Josie says:

    Thanks, guys. 🙂

  5. Tilde says:

    I feel the same way…if I’m being a good sister when I don’t think about her…there was a time where that was all I could think about..even after this long I’m still hurting but it’s not as painful. I know she’s in a better place. I worry like you about forgetting her and I try so hard to hang on to the memories I do remember. When I see dad and Taeya…I know she’ll never replace Bessie but I see him so happy to be a part of her life.
    Happy birthday Bessie…we love and miss you so much.

  6. Bob says:

    J,
    I feel this one deeply. The woman you are is a direct reflection of your lifes experiences, your family must be very proud. Your strength, profound. My prayers today, that Gods tender mercies continue to be with you.
    Bob
    PS. After 35 years, the memories that remain bring smiles. I witnessed fathers moment when my eldest brother named his firstborn son after the brother we lost. Yes Josie, the overwheming heartbreak transforms to loves acceptance.

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