Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I Miss My Sister

Yesterday I got slam dunked at work. One minute it was 7:45 and the next thing I knew it was 3:45. Back to back classes whirled by faster than a day at the beach. My 30 minute lunch included inhaling a bite quick as pie and wading through a backload of email. Monday after school tutorial was, thankfully, full of students who wanted teacher feedback on a paper.
I’m behind on my grading and behind on my prepping. I’m behind on parent phone calls and still haven’t waded through all my work email.

The reason? I’ve been blessed the last ten days with a visit from my sister. She flew in Thursday night before Laborless Labor Day weekend, spent the weekend at the beach house with me and my gal pals and stayed for another week after that. So, while she was here I put grading to the side as much as possible, neglected work as much as possible, and enjoyed her company.

I cannot believe how fast the time went and when she dropped me off at work yesterday, it didn’t really feel like she would be gone when I got home.

But she was. My husband took her to the airport and when I got home from work she was halfway across the ocean.

So I took the Border Collie to the park to play chuck it. Walking across the park in the late afternoon, listening to my I-shuffle and watching my dog run after the ball with so much joy was infective and soon I was joyful too.

And then…

Elton John’s song Daniel came on the I-shuffle. Suddenly the tears were streaming down my face. I had to sit down and let it rip. I hit replay four times before I could let go of the sense of loss, the feeling of separation. When Elton sang, “Daniel is traveling tonight on a plane,” I could FEEL IN MY HEART the dug and pull of my sister’s plane as it took her across the ocean and away from me. When he sang, “Lord I miss Daniel, oh I miss him so much,” I let myself feel the full weight of my sorrow and loss. And I let myself cry and cry and cry until I was ready to be done crying.

The day before, our last beach day, we went for a swim. The shore break was a little rough, but I got her to jump in for one last dippity-do-da. One of the reasons I admire my sister so much is that she has lived with a chronic illness for twenty years. One that makes her disabled. Her legs are weak and she can’t trust them. She has to take really good care of herself and she does, so most people would not even know that she lives with a disability. While we were swimming it reminded me of our early years, when we lived in a mobile home park on the beach in Malibu. She is four years older than me and back then I was in awe of her talent for body surfing. One time, the waves were huge, crashing almost over the pier. She and her teen friends went out and she was out the furthest of them all. Everyone on the beach wondered if she needed to get saved, but when she came in she tossed her wet hair at them with a look like “Are you kidding me? I could SAVE YOU ALL.” She was fearless.

As my sister and I went in from our swim on Sunday, I tried to make sure the waves didn’t knock her down. We were almost out, but the undertow was pulling strong and I reached out for her hand to steady her. As she grasped my hand and steadied her legs against the current my heart ached for us both. Not a totally sad ache. But there was a sense of loss for our youth. A hope for our future.

I love my life here in Hawaii and we all make choices that come with the good and the bad. But being separated from family and limiting our visits to when we can afford a plane ticket is definitely a part of the package that makes it stinky sometimes. That my sister and I are both breast cancer survivors creates an even more special bond between us, as well as gratefulness for the times we get to spend together.

So this is for my sis…………………………

Top ten reasons why I enjoy my sister’s company:

10: She helped me with my blog because she is uber smart and savvy with technology.

9: She has the same taste in music as I do, but she is a million times better at knowing the names of the artists, so she makes me mixed CD’s and they’re always my favorites.

8: We like the same wine, and the same wine snacks. We could go for many a night on just bread, cheese, olives, and bottles of red.

7: Our 50 year shared history means that no matter how long we have been apart, we fall right into place when we get together. She feels comfortable going into my fridge.

6: She makes me laugh. A lot. We have a similar sick sense of humor.

5: When we stayed at the beach house and shared a bed, we could stay up late in the dark and talk story like we were still young girls.

4: We could be in the house together and talk or not talk. We can go for hours reading and be comfortable with the silence.

3: I can get mad at my kids in front of her.

2: When she visits, everyone has more fun. We spend more time at remote beaches, having picnics, watching movies, enjoying sunsets, collecting shells, talking story, and taking car rides just for picture safaris.

1: She gets me. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And she still loves me.

What do you love about your sister?

13 comments:

only a movie said...

Oh, I love this post! I have four sisters and I must say that I would pick them all as friends if they weren't family first. I know I am lucky that way. They are super cool and wicked funny. :-D

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Four! And all four are keepers! Movie, you are very blessed.

shaunna said...

the funny thing is that i love my sister for all the same reasons, plus more. i'm just missing her a bit too much right now to be as eloquent.

thistle said...

I have one slightly younger sister that during the late spring and thru til sept i see every day on the weekdays when we walk together in the early am...then in sept we have different work schedules so lose that early am walk...i was just thinking about her today and decided i was going to send her an email with funny pics...from my dog...telling her how much we miss her company...cos she'll get the humour of a pic of the dead mouse that i wouldn't let the dog have, as well as a few other silly and twisted images we collected today...there's nothing better shared than an inside joke between sisters

Marie Louise said...

What a lovely post. Made me cry - which isn't very convenient because I am trying to get my three daughter's off to school and you're definitely messing with my synchronized morning schedule - even a minute can throw me off! I contemplated living in Hawaii at one point in my life. I have friends there and met my ex in Maui - it is such a beautiful place, but yes, far away unfortunately. Thanks for visiting my blog. I will be back to check up on yours. I imagine you'll be busy grading papers for the next week or so!

Marie Louise said...

p.s. do you know a family named Wenderroth - they live in Honolulu I believe and Valeria is a music professor originally from Italy. She has a husband Ray and a daughter Elena. It's a small world - you never know.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Thistle - The inside jokes are the best! Especially when the joke connects to an old story that just the two of you get.

Mary Louise - I don't know the family, but my daughter is a music major at UH, so I'll ask her.

ByJane said...

Wish I could say the same. I'd get to about 2 before I'd run out of points to make. I really envy you.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Sorry to hear that Jane...
One of my closest friends ( a few of us have been close since the early 80's) always says, "friends are the family you make on your own."

Kristan said...

Aw, now you've got me missing my sister... And I talk to her online daily! But yes, being separated from family is the worst part about "striking out on your own," even when you're happy with your choices.

Reason #3 was my favorite, haha.

Very beautiful post. I think I'll send it to my sister.

Kathy said...

What a great post, I envy you your relationship with your sister and wish I had such a good one with mine. I do have some relatives that I am close to, though - and they are halfway across the country. I haven't been "home" in 6 months and I miss them. It's tough when you live far away, but you know that where you are and what you're doing is the right thing. Sometimes they don't get it though.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I've been in Hawaii for 26 years, so being away from the family I come from has been tough. Instead of watching my neices and nephews grow up, I remember each size by my trips. And watching my parents age was harder - each trip they seemed enormously different. Scarier, now I am turning into them!

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Just seeing this post for the first time. I clicked on the "I MISS My Sister" link cuz I Really Really miss my sister, Teri. She died July 28, 2008 at the age of 49 and three weeks. She threw a blood clot so damn big it blocked both her lungs and she passed in minutes with no suffering; if there's a good side to this, that'd be it.

Now it's been two and a half years and every day I cry with the sorrow and pain of her death. There's never been anyone who died in my life that has affected me so deeply. Take every opportunity to hug your sisters.

I'm so blessed that I have a sister by another mother who loves me more than words can impart; that relationship has helped me heal from the loss of my Teri.