My Sister’s Keeper

Nothing prepares you for the words I heard in under a week’s time. How we went from, “your sister has cancer” on Saturday to ” your sister died” on Tuesday, I will never understand. I am still in shock, I manage to stop crying long enough to scream, ” God why?” My chest hurts, I have seen death in my life, it is no stranger to me but, this….

She deserves so much, she deserved to know every day of her life that she was indeed loved. Something I think she questioned daily in her short 33 years of life. I spent our entire childhood trying to protect her from any kind of pain imaginable. I failed to do this when she became an adult. I, like everyone else in the world, had decided she had to grow up and face life head on. What I didn’t see was she had no idea how to do this because of me allowing her to stay a child and not learning the true reality of life itself. 

We learn from infants how to become adults, some of us become adults much younger than others, like I did. Some of us never really grow up at all. I was frustrated by the fact I had to be responsible so young, I was frustrated that my sister could do whatever she wanted and I was blamed for everything. I am mad that she is gone and I didn’t have time to do or say all I should have said her whole life. I am mad that our family allowed us all to separate and never really unite like family should. 

I thought I was being a good sister by making sure she never suffered as a child. Thing is all that pain we are suppose to go through ends up catching up with us. So although, I was there with her as a child, I couldn’t take away all the suffering she experienced as an adult. Maybe if I had allowed her to experience a portion of what I had she would have taken life much more seriously. She would have seen all of her kids as a blessing instead of a burden that she wasn’t prepared to carry. Instead of being mad at her lack of common sense, I should have sat with her and taught her what she should have learned years ago.

We take life for-granted every single day. The only people who actually live life to the fullest are those who are on death’s doorstep.  The rest of us grieve and promise to change as we are crying over our sick loved one, then we lose them and we mourn them, swearing to God we will become better people for our loss and we don’t. We just do as we have always done until it is us who are now standing on Death’s doormat. I don’t want to be that person, 

I should have done so much more for Jess, to ease her tortured mind.  Thing is I don’t even understand why her mind was tortured, I guess it was because she witnessed what happened to me and while I was mentally gone during it all so that I could keep part of my sanity, she wasn’t. She stood there and saw and heard every bit of it and although it was not directed at her, it must have hurt watching someone you love being attacked until they no longer know who they are. I couldn’t understand when she said it was bad for her when I left home, because the punishment she received wasn’t unexpected, I had taken years of it for her so I know. If I had taught her how to be more grown, than maybe she wouldn’t have felt the way she did. She would have realized that this is how life is and we cannot stay in the past we must accept it and make sure we don’t screw up our offspring. 

But, that is all I have now.. the past. She is gone now and I can’t scream loud enough to bring her back. God took her from me, I held her hand after she was born and I couldn’t hold it when she passed. I should have been there with her, I should be giving her everything she wants in death since I didn’t do that in life. It’s bad enough that God makes us struggle through life to make us stronger he then makes us suffer through death as well. I have yelled at him many times in my life when he has taken from me, I told him, “you push and pull anything long enough it will break,” I am breaking!!!  An although her suffering is over, mine will continue until my time is finally up and then my loved ones will suffer in tears, that is not right. There has to be a way to learn life’s lessons without hurting so badly.It should be a commandment or something that if your life was filled with pain and suffering your death should not.

I loved you Jess more than you ever knew and if I had it to do over I would have been a better example to you. I  would have taught you how to be strong and let you know that even I break down when life gets hard. Because nobody can take that much pain and not lose it sometimes. I am sorry I didn’t teach you that. I am so sorry I let you go all these years thinking that I didn’t suffer with you.  I am sorry that you had to be the one to teach me that I need to live before it is too late.
R.I.P. May 13, 1977- Feb 8,2011


12 thoughts on “My Sister’s Keeper

  1. Karin Bartimole says:

    Dear Jenni,
    I know we don't know each other, but so much of what you've written resonates deeply with me, I feel as though I know much of your story, without knowing you personally. I just want to start by saying how incredibly sorry I am fro your loss. I cannot imagine the shock, the suddenness, and the intensity of this happening to someone I loved, but especially not my sister, who I, too protected through out our childhood. I know the pain is raw and needs to be felt, but if, as you said, you took on too much of Jess's protection as a child – that huge responsibility, perhaps you might consider letting yourself off the hook when it comes to having been responsible for teaching her how to be strong as an adult – perhaps you might consider that you did everything you possibly could given the tools, the time, the situation, so that your heart may heal and your body may stay healthy, too.

    I, too, was the protector of my own sister – the one who tried to take on all the pain growing up, and in so doing deprived her of experiences that were hers to have to learn from We do our best as children, and survival often means protect at all costs to make it in threatening environments. Imbalances are inevitable. In our situation, I got the cancer, taking it all on, all in. We all are survivors now, in each our own way…
    One thing I may not have the authority to say, but feel in my heart – Jess knew you loved her, and I believe she hears your screams, and has heard this message. I believe she would want you to release yourself from responsibility of her, and to live fully, for the strongest, best you.
    I'm sorry if I've over stepped in anyway. Your words touched me deeply, and my prayers and thoughts are with you.
    With peace, and healing, Karin

    • InJensMind says:

      I wish I could believe that. I was brought up being held accountable for my siblings because I was the oldest. As much as I wanted to not be responsible as an adult for them I find myself not able to stop doing it. There’s no doubt in her last moments she knew how much I loved her but, I wish I didn’t have to outlive her. The oldest is suppose to go first and it just doesn’t seem fair. I am fairly back to normal now but, it’s because I have to try and not think or speak of her. Moments like now just replying to your comment gets me all choked up. I will never know why this happened to her and that bothers me endlessly.

  2. sulekha says:

    Jenni, she loved you and knew that you loved her too. Let go of all regrets and live with happy memories of her.

  3. melissa says:

    I feel for you…I have always seen you as strong and level minded and it’s so human to see your vulnerable side. I have assisted cancer patients and have underwent the different stages in their lives… but believe me it has changed me much much more than them. I see your point in protecting her and teaching her … but life has to be lived by that person… yes, I agree, she has to walk her path and you have done your part…. I embrace you, it has been a while… but embrace your story and make it a part of me… look around you again, you have been gifted more sisters in this world… to love, behold and protect… we’re not as close as yet but I love you Jenni.

  4. Tameka Mullins says:

    Always sending you loving vibes. I pray that you are in a much better place with your pain, but I know first hand that it will always be there. I pray the good memories will replace the hurtful ones. You did all you could and she will always love you for that.

Stand upright, speak thy thoughts, declare The truth thou hast, that all may share; Be bold, proclaim it everywhere: They only live who dare. -Voltaire

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