My sister Kate passed away this weekend. My “3 sisters and 4 brothers” has become “2 sisters and 4 brothers.” So many thoughts and emotions are running through my head these past few days. It is beginning to sink in… I’ve lost my sister.
Our relationship has been an interesting one over the years. Because of this, I built a wall around myself to keep out that which was uncomfortable. She and I were blessed with the fat genes of the family. Growing up, we were occasionally referred to as “Chubs” and “Chubs Junior.” That was always very difficult for me to live with, as I’ve always struggled with my weight. Kate was 11 years older than me. She never married and I married later in life. She was always proud of me as I grew up. She fell in love with my first husband and step daughter; welcoming them into the family. She instantly became “Aunt Kate” to my second marriage and three step children. She loved them all as if they were blood. She would even inquire about Abigail, our cat…her “niece!”
That is how she was. She was “Aunt Kate.” She loved her nieces and nephews… and greats! They were her world! Every year she gave each each niece and nephew a personalized ornament for Christmas. The older ones have quite a collection! She would often include me in those! Suddenly today, those ornaments have a deeper meaning than ever before.
She was the birthday queen! She knew every birthday and anniversary, and acknowledged every one of them. We always joked about what we would do when Kate was gone. Who was going to be the family Historian?
She loved her family, coffee, crosswords, Gonzaga Bulldogs, good scotch, Longaberger Baskets, Pez dispensers, FB, the color red, Bead Lake, anything Scottish, Legos, laughing and sharing food and drink with old friends reunited. She loved and she was loved. She had a story… one that I did not truly know.
Sunday night, before receiving the call about Kate’s passing, I was wrestling with God about some one-sided relationships in my life. You know, those ones where you do all the work and the other half does little or nothing unless they need something. The ones where you wonder if the other person even likes you. Yes, I was grumbling to God. It was not pretty.
One phone call later and I’m suddenly looking at life from a different perspective. Was I that “other side of the relationship” with Kate? To be honest, at times she drove me nuts! She lived alone her entire life and in my mind, could be incredibly selfish. Hmmmm… have I never been selfish and driven people nuts? I had issues with her growing up – always being compared to her. You could almost say it was a love-hate relationship. I was judgmental of her and the way she did or didn’t do things in her life. I humbly admit that I did not want to be like her. Oh, how my words feel so cruel and cold, but they are my true, raw, honest feelings… ones I need to face and own… and use to help me change.
Today, it all seems so small and meaningless. So we were the chubby sisters. So she never married and I was afraid I would follow in her footsteps. So, she was always right… or thought she was! She was my sister… and God’s cherished daughter… and incredibly loved by so many people whose paths crossed with hers over her 61 years.
Oh, how I wish I could say that I had unconditional love for my sister. No, my love was at times conditional and judgmental. I was busy and did not always take time to reach out as often as I should have. I see that now… today… after she is gone. My heart is breaking and grieving.
I am deeply sorry. If only I had one more conversation with her or one more FB post to tell her that I really do love her. She really has made a difference in the lives of those around her… including me.
Why do we (I) wait until someone is gone before we (I) realize their importance in our lives? Everyone has a place and a purpose… and everyone has a story…and every story matters.
I love you, Kate…rest in peace.