I wear a necklace, a rose inside a tear drop. It was given to me eight years ago and is said to be a symbol of love that never dies.
Eight years ago on this date, September 11th, my sister died. She began feeling ill on Thursday and by Saturday night she was gone. It was a very rare condition but that’s beside the point for it doesn’t much matter, rare or common, does it. She was not yet 50 years old and by the dawn on the Sunday, the lives of her husband, two beloved teenage daughters and the rest of us were forever changed.
She was a loving mother, wife, daughter, aunt, sister, friend, colleague, nurse and salt of the earth.
You’d be rare if you have never had someone close to you die. There’s no rhyme or reason, no equitable formula where grief is spread equally across families or friends. Some people, some families seem to have such loss. I wonder at times how some manage.
Our thoughts and reactions in grief are unique. I remember thinking it felt as if our family had been walking along, all arm in arm, all marching in time and collectively we fell flat, face first. The wind was knocked from our lungs. We couldn’t breathe. I remember wondering (just as I did when each of my parents died) why the world hadn’t stood still, at least for a while.
Time has a way of taking some of the edge off the sharpness of the days, weeks and months and now years that follow the death of a loved one. Her place in our family endures, I see her in her daughters. They are vibrant, accomplished and enjoy so many of the interests she instilled in them in their young lives. Her husband has been a strong, caring and dedicated single parent.
I have tested the strength of that gift, the necklace. Many times I have forgotten I was wearing the chain and yanked an article of clothing over my head, the necklace flying across the room. The chain has never broken. It has occasionally fallen off, gone missing and somehow re-surfaces. The necklace endures, as does its symbolism of love that never dies.
Love you, Joanne.