One week ago today, my sister died.
My nephew called me about this time last week to tell me she had passed that morning.
Apparently she had avoided seeing a doctor for long enough, in spite of repeated complaints of feeling unwell and in pain, that when she finally did get nagged into seeing a physician, she was diagnosed with late stage lung cancer. She was dead within six weeks.
All of this came as a real shock to me because I didn’t know she was sick. Or at least, I didn’t know she was that sick.
She didn’t take very good care of herself. She had been smoking since she was in her teens. She wasn’t eating right (she was also diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes at the time she got that cancer diagnosis) and she wasn’t exercising. And, as I mentioned, she wasn’t smart about seeking preventive care.
And I didn’t know any of this until after she was dead. Deana and I had taken very different paths through life. We weren’t close. We never had been truly close, not since we were aged in single digits and played together. Once we emerged into the world of school, some kids used to tease her about me, saying I was cute and she wasn’t. After awhile of that kind of abuse, she came to hate me. I didn’t know what to do because I wanted my big sister back but she was so angry that I was powerless. My parents were useless … but that’s another story.
We were still partners in crime though, especially as we got older. That mostly consisted of her doing things she wasn’t supposed to do, me trying to cover for her, and both of us getting into trouble because her defiance was not really intended to go undetected.
Then we grew up and went our separate ways. Eventually, she found Jesus and I found graduate school.
Occasionally, we exchanged words on Facebook, the medium of our infrequent communications. We wished each other happy birthdays and happy holidays. A couple of years ago, she messaged me an apology for being a crappy big sister and we sort of made up after so many years. I’m glad we got that done before it was too late.
And in spite of how distantly and separately we lived our lives, I am riddled with grief. I have surprised myself with how devastated I feel.
She was not really part of my day-to-day life but she was my big sister. She was my only sibling. She wasn’t supposed to die this young (like our mother did).