I made it through almost forty years before I had to test my beliefs about life after death. To tell the truth, I hadn’t given it much thought until recently. I don’t go to church, and I don’t read the Bible. No help for me there. However, my son doesn’t recognize my sister’s picture. How can that be? I have been so careful. Even though we look at photo albums and talk about her, he still can’t put my sister’s name to her face consistently.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. A most dreadful disease, ovarian cancer, stole her from us at the age of 56. She spent almost two years fighting. She kept looking to the future and the day when she would get her life back. Sadly, that day never came. But, I believe there is a “silver lining”, as it were, to this story. My sister and I grew so close during her struggle. We lived in different states, but that didn’t stop us. We spoke on the phone daily. Not just quick conversations to find out how she was doing. No, we spent HOURS on the phone. I would just cradle it under my ear and carry on with my day. She was with me while I was fixing lunch, cleaning the house, and hanging out with my children. Even though we were separated by hundreds of miles, we were closer in those two years than we had ever been before. I know more about her, and she knew more about me, than we would have ever had the chance to know otherwise. Even when she felt her worst, she made the effort to reach out and tell us that she loved us. I believe she is still with me and still saying “I love you.” She is probably with my son, and he just doesn’t know it. Is there a heaven? I couldn’t tell you that, but maybe it doesn’t matter whether the answer is yes or no. Maybe all that matters is how we reach out to others while we are here on Earth and how we are remembered when we are gone.
It has been three years since my sister died. My son is 5 years old now. Of course, he doesn’t remember her. How could he? Still, I work at it almost every day. I can hear my sister in my head enjoying the everyday comedies of life with young children. I want him to hear her, to know her, too. It’s not fair that she could fade away so quickly. So, I’ll carry on. Maybe he won’t ever have his own memories of his aunt, but he’ll have my stories. If he winds up with one small corner of his heart warmed by my sister, she will live on. This I believe.
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