Thursday, 6 April 2017

TOO SOON TO SAY GOODBYE / [Family]


My sister Judith and brother Stephen
She was 12 and a bit when I was born. That perfect age when young girls are into all things baby. Helping with nappy changes and bottle feeding and bathing and cuddling, lots of cuddling.

Growing up, it was like I had two mothers, which at times as a teenager, could be pretty frustrating, two people lecturing you can get awfully tiresome. But in spite of that, it was wonderful to have an older sister who cared so much about me.

When I was 10 she married and moved away from home and I remember I cried myself to sleep after the wedding. It just wasn’t going to be the same not having her around. Thankfully, she moved not too far away and my other sister and I spent holidays with her where we were able to do lots of feeding and bathing and cuddling of our new nephew.

Some years later her marriage ended and she came back home with my nephew and pregnant with her second child. For a few years I shared a room with my nephew. Life was a bit tight having three extra people in the house but it was also a wonderful time with lots of happy memories.
I know I don't look happy but I really was!!! Dad just took
forever to take a photograph!
Me with my two nephews and my sister in the background.

But again, it was like having two Mum’s to answer to and at times tensions ran high between her and I as I wanted my privacy and was going through a rebellious stage and she hovered like a mother hen. We had some interesting fights during that time with me usually yelling “You’re not my mother!” But for the most part, it was fun having my nephews around plus another adult to sort out problems for me and my sister’s cooking was certainly an improvement on my Mums!

Eventually she remarried and moved to Wagga and then Sale in Victoria as her new husband was in the Air Force. They did a stint at Butterworth until one of my nephews was diagnosed with Leukemia and the family (which had grown to 3) eventually moved back to Sydney for his treatment.

We have always been a close family. My Mum and Dad, two sisters and one brother, our spouses and children and grandchildren. We always made an effort to celebrate Birthdays together and attend each others and our children’s important occasions like Baptisms and Confirmations, 21st’s and Engagements, and to just get together as a family for a BBQ or the like just because we loved being together. Some of the happiest times of my life have been spent with my family. The joy of those days is embedded in my heart and I marvel that we were so blessed. 
One of the many combined 'June' Birthdays with many
members of the family having birthdays in June
I remember as a child, I found it hard to imagine that things would change and I had  a deep need for them not to change. Change can be good sometimes but it can also be painful. And at times your whole world seems to crash down around you and it’s devastating.

That’s how I felt in 2013 when my sister, my other Mother, my friend, singing companion, listening ear, sometimes mentor, fun loving, caring, passionate, annoying, overbearing, loveable, talkative, opinionated, compassionate, loud, talented, gifted, knowledgeable, know it all of a sister that was always there for me no matter what, passed away and left our family bereft.

My sister
4 years ago today, she left this earth for her eternal home and my heart has yet to stop aching. The very special place she filled in my world, that only she could fill, remains empty and time has been unable to fill the void. My world as I knew it changed, never to be the same again in so many ways.

In her passing, and that of my brother 5 months later causing equal devastation, we lost so much more than a sister and a brother. We lost a way of life. We lost a closeness as a family that we enjoyed so much, a special bond that so often only family have. That 'look' - that knowing glance, that connection with your roots, that one word that could evoke hilarious laughter or perhaps groans because we all knew what it meant. The funny stories we shared from childhood. Someone who had ‘been there, done that’, with you, who shared a past and understood why you were the way you were.

That these deaths could cause such an avalanche of change in my life and leave a giant crater that was once a mountain top of joy is a bitter pill to swallow.

My sister was a strong woman, like most of the women in our family line. She went through some pretty tough times in her life but no matter what her struggles were, she always had time to give of herself to someone else, to sit and listen and yes, offer counsel, as she was want to do, but she also had a vulnerability, maybe insecurity, as well as a sadness about her that was covered up by bluff and bluster. 

She often said she felt like a square peg in a round hole and I don't think anyone really 'got her' the way she needed to be 'got.' She was no saint that's for sure but in many ways there was a depth to her that I don't think even she could understand or adequately explain. She felt things deeply and struggled with many demons but she had a faith that didn't quit and a confidence in her Lord that brought her great comfort and peace, especially at the end of her life. 

She had a crazy streak as well and a warped sense of human that meant lots of laughter and frivolity at family gatherings and she could sing like the proverbial angel. We spent many happy hours with my brother and other sister singing together, which was something that I derived a lot a pleasure from and miss immensely.
My sister and her husband

Each person that blesses our lives, each with their own distinctiveness, fills different places in our hearts and lives and when one is lost, a little piece of yourself is lost too. What’s left are the wonderful memories of happier times, yes, but also a longing for those sweeter times to return, the times that you blissfully and ignorantly took for granted and refused to acknowledge would one day end.

Now, we all know only too well that nothing lasts forever and so there is real value in speaking your heart to someone you love, and making the most of every precious moment that we are given. Yes, we have our memories but the pain of loss will be ours until that glorious day when we are all reunited through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Until then, we keep moving forward, we embrace life with everything we have, we love with abandon and give with joy and celebrate each other every day so that when our time comes we will know that we lived every minute recognising and embracing the gift we have in family.

The pain is still deep and oh what I wouldn’t give to do it all again, but alas, that is not how it works.

I don’t like it! I don’t like it one little bit! And I still have moments where I want to stamp my foot and scream 'NO'. But I must accept it regardless. 

Thank God that we will one day all be together again and what joy we 
will know then!

I love you and miss you big Sis. It was way too soon to say goodbye!

My big sister Judith and I
Mare



2 comments:

  1. Things started to change once Grandma and Grandpa went. But I really felt it when Aunty Judy and Uncle Stephen passed. It's not only like things just changed but it's like we are less of eachother now. It should bring us closer. Not that I love any of you any less but it's like we are even busier now with our loves than ever. We need to work on it. Loved this blog xxx jade xxx

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    1. Yes, losing Mum and Dad had its own deep impact but I felt closer to the others then because it was like just the four of us left and we needed each other. You are right. Life is very busy but if we want closeness we need to be intentional about it. It won't happen by itself. Let's work on it. Love you xxx

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