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"Time is too slow for those who wait,
Too swift for those who fear,
Too long for those who grieve,
Too short for those who rejoice,
But for those who love,
Time is eternity."

---Henry Van Dyke

Death Visits Again

Death visited my family again last night. This time it came without warning, taking my sister swiftly in the night - without warning - with its cold, dark fingers and its brutal finality. Cruel and heartless as always, it came in the dark of the night and took her without so much as a whisper.

Perhaps it is not so much for her that I grieve, but for those of us whose lives she touched. I grieve for her husband who loved her as much as any man could love anyone. Inseparable in life, death came ripped the physical bond between them. It left him alone with all those memories all around him. Everywhere he looks today he will see her. Everything of hers he touches will touch him back. Death could not reach beyond the physical - her spirit lives on and walks with us every day for as long as we shall live.

I grieve for myself. She and I were never very close for most of our lives. It took the illnesses and deaths of my step-mother and father to bring us together. Ironically, death forged a bond between us that life could not. We shared more laughs and tears together the last few years than we did in the decades that passed before.

Today, there is an empty place in my heart. Sorrow fills my soul. I grieve for my sister and the husband she left behind. I grieve for her because I miss her. Even though we talked only once or twice a week, over the last few years we became very close. I enjoyed our conversations. We'd banter back and forth and joke with each other about who was the oldest between us. I am two years older than she, but I always teased her about actually being older. I used to tell her that I could remember her babysitting for me when I was a kid. And she used to laugh so hard at that. She never gave into my ruse and I never gave up on it. We bantered about it constantly. And laughed and smiled.

She hated hot weather and I loved it. I used to call her sometimes when I was walking. If the weather was in the 70's I would tell her I was wearing my hat and gloves because it was so "chilly". I teased her telling her that I liked those hot, humid kind of days in the 90's. Days that were "warm" enough so I could walk without a coat, hat or gloves. I can hear her laugh and say, "Oh! you do not!". I'd insist that I really did and that I was wearing a coat, hat, and gloves even though the temperature was a pleasant 72 degrees. And the bantering continued about weather and our ages.

Today, I am the last member of my family left. My mother died when I was ten. My step-mother died four years ago. My father died last year and yesterday my sister left me. My grandparents are gone. My aunts and uncles are gone. It's a strange and lonely feeling to be the last surviving member of a once thriving and happy family.

I should have done more. I could have done more. Should haves and could haves - how I dislike those perfect tenses. I suppose in the grand scheme of things we all think we're doing what we should do and can do and then when times like these come, wonder if we really did. I wonder how many people lose loved ones and think of all those should haves and could haves? Or, it is just me?

I feel lonely. Maybe I should feel lucky. I'm too sad to feel lucky. It is raining and it is dark and all things seem distorted in the shadows of the night. In the morning when daylight breaks, perhaps the light will make things a bit clearer - and things easier to understand. Death is as much a part of life as birth - yet right now, it is impossible for me to understand.

My sister never had children, because she couldn't. She had medical problems at the age of 23 that would take away her ability to have them. How sad. She would have made a wonderful mother.

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. It is the first day I'll spend on this Earth without my sister sharing the Earth with me. It is the first day I will spend as the last surviving member of my family.

I will walk alone today and remember her and mourn for her. I will remember her laugh and the teasing and be thankful that I've had these past few years to get to know the sister that I really never knew before.

I won't have to wear a hat, coat, or gloves today Susan, it will be 90. I love these hot, humid days.

I can hear you laughing now.

Goodbye, Susan. I will miss you more than you know.

"A glooming peace this morning with it brings;
The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head:
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things..."
("Romeo and Juliet" William Shakespeare)

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