In January 2016, an unbiased cancer claimed the life of my sister, Theresa. Memories are all I have now—some are so painful to recall, while others bring me tremendous laughter. Even though I know she isn’t physically with me anymore, when I think of her, I feel her presence so deep within my heart. When a chill runs through me, or a warm, loving feeling, I pray it is my big sister and not my imagination getting the best of me.
The crystal vase she loved so much is now where her ashes rest. As I pass the open door of her bedroom, there is no longer any sign of her, only an empty room she used to call home. I try to find comfort from my sorrow by lying on the floor in her room, staring up at the ceiling, hoping she sends me some sign that she is okay.
There are those days when I think I won’t be able to get through another day without her, avoiding those closest to me, angry with myself that I couldn’t save her. It is difficult to wake up each day without some thought of her, and the one question that plagues me: Why did it have to take her from me? I long for a time when the sadness subsides, but with that comes the reality that she is no longer here, making our family incomplete.
Growing up and into adulthood, we went through life protecting each other from harm, and yet, I was unable to protect her from this callous creature we call cancer. I will no longer have my sister, with whom I shared so many great times. The inside stories that only she and I understood have vanished, leaving me without my partner in crime.
I used my journal to shield myself from the pain. Documenting our time together, knowing when she was gone I had captured her last months in black and white. She showed me the meaning of bravery and strength. Her days were full and she embraced life and lived it while dying. There were so many times I was truly amazed at how gracefully she accepted what might lie ahead for her, as if someone had let her in on that big secret we all wonder about: Where do we go when we leave here?
She always believed that if your dreams didn’t scare you, they weren’t big enough. I know she is watching and smiling, helping me through my heartache with her infectious laughter and unwavering courage.
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