Friday, March 22, 2013


But the ghosts that we knew will flicker from view
We'll live a long life

So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light
'Cause oh that gave me such a fright
But I will hold as long as you like
Just promise me we'll be alright

-Ghosts That We Knew, Mumford and Sons

She was my big sister for 39 years.  She taught me to read. She did my hair for prom. We wore the same wedding dress (she convinced me to promise dad I'd also wear the dress when the one she loved was above the budget).  We were pregnant together twice.  She was my go-to person for parenting advice and sharing all the little things the boys did from rolling over the first time to deciding to lick the other kids in his first grade class because he was "being a lizard" (you can guess which kid did that).  Our friends became their friends.

In the novel that is my life, she was is a major character.


People like to say that our loved ones who've died are never really gone because they live on in our hearts.  A popular cliche, but I suppose it's true since our love for them certainly doesn't go away when someone dies.  As Mel pointed out in a recent post, their stories stay with us even if they aren't physically there.

Jeanne is still present in my life in so many ways, not just tied up in an amorphouse feeling of love and loss.  At times it feels like she's still here.  I don't mean in the metaphysical, hovering around and watching us kind of way.  Even though my grandmother believed in ghosts, I'm a bit skeptical.

I sometimes think that they are just on a long vacation.  The other day I was sending out an evite for one of the kids birthday parties and I saw that I still have Jeanne and Mike's emails entered in my contact list.  I can't delete them.  If I send them an evite, will they RSVP?  Will they come back?

I talk to her all the time, mostly in the form of random questions.

Has M always been this difficult?

Were you scared?  Did it hurt?

How can I help E, when she doesn't want me but wants you?

Can you see us?

Are you proud of me?

Are you mad at me for not taking MG and KT?

Just like when she was alive, I sometimes get mad at her.  Angry at the parenting decisions she and Mike made that impact our family and my boys.  Angry at her for leaving.

Jeanne's absence in some ways makes her even more present in my life than before.


I'm noticing that my grief isn't buried as deep.  Most days I keep it at bay with the excuse of my need to be present for the kids or that it's indulgent to feel sad when my parents lost their little girl and the girls lost their parents. 

It's coming out at random times.  Listening to a song alone in the car.  Watching a TV show.  Reading a book.  Folding laundry. A late night text from C sharing a memory.  Catching my reflection in the mirror and seeing her.

I catch my breath and remember that I lost my sister.  My big sister.  Tears wash over me.  Just as quickly I can usually pull myself together not wanting anyone else (K, the kids, random strangers at Target) to see. Pulling myself back from the pain.


She's always here and not.

I miss my sister.  I want her back.


  1. You made me cry hard this morning. What a gorgeous tribute to her and the mess that death leaves behind.

  2. I still talk to my dad and it's been 15 years (almost 16). I still talk to Hannah. That cliche about them always being here is rather annoying, and yet, appropriate.

    I'm so sorry for your loss. It's those unexpected moments grief hits that are the hardest. I get it.

  3. I'm so sorry, Peg. I miss my mom the same way.