It was ten years ago today that my sister Sheri died. Ten years. It’s so hard to believe all that time has passed. So much has happened during those years. My mind can’t really fathom that Sheri hasn’t been here–that she hasn’t been a part of it all. I suppose that is because when you love someone deeply, they become a part of you. She has not been here in body, but she has always been near in my thoughts, in my dreams, and in my heart. I have taken her along with me.
There are times when missing her causes me acute pain. I still weep for her. I wish I could hear her infectious laugh, hold her small frame, kiss her smooth, warm cheek. I miss her cards and update letters, her handmade gifts, her phone calls and emails. I wonder what she would think or do in certain situations. I wonder what advice she would give. But reminders of her also bring me joy. I see her face in the face of my sisters–in the way one moves her mouth, or the mannerisms of another. I see her when I look at my own reflection–curly eyelashes and curved fingernails. I see things that remind me of her–wild flowers, pencil drawings, quilts and crafts. I think of her when I score a great bargain and when I shop at the fabric store.
Sheri was smart, assertive, and determined. I always smirk when I hear CFers talk about 100% compliance. They usually mean doing all of the treatments that their doctors want them to do. And for sure, Sheri did all her treatments. But she was not exactly compliant. She wasn’t afraid to challenge any doctor, nurse or therapist when she felt she was not getting the quality of care she needed. She insisted on explanations rather than simple answers. She educated herself on treatments and medications and she stood up for herself when need be. In my mind’s eye, I can still see all five feet, 90-some pounds of her on the warpath. It makes me smile.
Sheri pursued her goals as long as she had the strength rather than allowing an uncertain future to stimie her. She graduated from college with a special education degree and taught for more than five years before deciding to retire. Even after she stopped working she never stopped investing in people, making a positive difference in so many lives. She got married and enjoyed being a wife and creating a happy home for herself and her husband. She certainly had hard times due to her cystic fibrosis and she experienced many losses. There were days she had trouble accepting her situation. However she always pulled through those hard times with her faith in tact. As she said, “I have resolved to make cystic fibrosis a positive factor. So I refuse to succumb to bitterness or defeat, lest the doctor’s predictions prove correct and I live a miserable, abbreviated existence.”
And she was successful. Because when I think of her, mostly I remember the joy she exuded. She was bright, bubbly, and cheerful. She was fun to be with and had a great sense of humor. Her struggles helped shape her in a positive way. They made her compassionate and understanding; they helped her relate to others who were hurting. Today as I mark the tenth anniversary of her exit from this earth and her entrance into heaven, I feel deeply grateful. I’m grateful to have known her. I’m grateful to have loved her. I’m grateful to have been loved by her. I’m grateful to have her example to follow. She is part of the fabric of my being. She has taken hold of eternal life now, and so we miss her greatly. But someday we will be together again.
“Be still, my soul! The hour is hastening on when we shall be forever with the Lord; when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone, sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored. Be still, my soul! When change and tears are past, all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.”
(Be Still My Soul, verse four, by Catharina von Schlege)