Written in memory of my older sister, Julie.
I last saw you alive and well and 20 years old.
We celebrated your birthday that night,
but you didn’t turn 21 ’til the next day.
We had dinner,
I assume it was your homemade favorite.
It was our wednesday tradition:
You and he would come to eat,
then we’d head to church —
Jas and I to youth group,
you to band practice
and he to wait oh so patiently for you.
That wednesday no different —
just added cake and presents.
Left the church that night, but just before I did
I peaked in the window to the sanctuary.
I saw you through the glass, playing piano,
stopping to respond to Jan’s comment.
You laughed, then started playing away again.
I turned, said goodbye to him,
(he was sitting on the bench, reading as he waited),
and we left.
The next day was your birthday.
Oh what a difference a day makes.
The only time I saw your 21-year old self,
you were not well.
That fiery sister of mine —
tubes coming in and
tubes coming out.
Beep Beep Beep was your lifeline rhythm.
Oh what a difference 3 days makes.
Not even 24 hours between the call of distress,
and the calls of death.
The angst of the waiting room turned to certain sorrow.
We left — evicted from a monumental moment,
from life as we knew it.
Outside, the sunshine was offensive.
The birds’ songs, inconsiderate,
as we waded into a new life we never wanted.
Oh what a difference 4 days makes.
I wonder if you’d recognize us now.
I am 24, short hair, same size, better style.
Jas is 27, taller, stronger, better style, too.
Last we knew you were 21,
but tomorrow you’d turn 10 years older.
How can that be? 31.
A third of your life not lived.
It’s raining now, and I am
within 10 minutes of being
exactly 10 years away from
the last moment I saw you — playing, laughing.
I am both sad and happy to remember
that last glimpse of you.
Oh what a difference 10 years makes.
And what love and loss 10 years cannot erase.
Please keep us in your prayers tomorrow, on her birthday, and Friday, on the anniversary of her death.
I may post some memories of her, we’ll just have to see how the week goes.