On May 15th, 2007, I experienced a lost unlike any pain I have ever known. My younger sister, Maresa, passed away on this day. Thirty minutes after my mother had just seen and talked to her. Forty-five minutes after she had just arrived home from school. One week after I had had any sort of conversation with her.
Today would have been her 31st birthday.
Have you ever thought “I’ll see this person tomorrow.” “I’ll make things right tomorrow.” “I’ll be closer to them tomorrow.” I’ll tell them how I feel tomorrow.“ “I’ll simply wait until tomorrow.”
The only thing that resonates with me about May 15th is that there was no tomorrow. The tomorrow that I never got to be closer to my sister, to spend time with my sister. She had Down’s Syndrome, and though we were very close in age, we were not close in much of anything else. We spent our entire lives with our bedrooms right next to each other, sharing a bathroom, eating at the same breakfast table, walking the halls of the same school, and we had never so much as had a conversation.
I can remember that phone call like it was yesterday, a family friend telling me I need to come home right now. I spent the next week in complete shock, being strong because my mother could not. Planning the funeral that my mother could not. Pushing grief and pain and anger as far into the depths of my soul as I could reach. And yelling at and questioning God because I was sure he had made a mistake. I was numb. And some even said they were afraid that I wasn’t grieving properly. But what did it mean to grieve properly? Who decides how you are to grieve?
When it hit me, weeks after all was said and done and life slowly became routine again, the grief came, along with the pain and anger and worse, the guilt. I remember my partner at the time telling the story, because I have no memory of this myself, of how she found me sitting on our closet floor, hysterical. She said I was just crying, rocking back and forth and nothing she did could calm or comfort me. She tried holding me and I pulled away, she tried talking to me, I would not listen. She finally called my mother and said “I am scared for her, and I don’t know what to do.”
I didn’t know what to do. I had never felt the waves of emotions that came with death. I remember the day after her death, I walked passed the bathroom door and my mother was standing in the mirror with a comb in her hand, and the look on her face was as if she had no idea what to do with the comb she was holding. She was completely and utterly broken .I was convinced that God had taken the wrong daughter. My mother and sister were very close. I felt like my mother would not survive without her. I felt she could have survived without me.
For weeks, I battled with God. I was angry because my mother was hurting. I was confused because I didn’t know why he had allowed this to happen. And I was guilty because I never did the things with my sister that I should have done. I never said the things that I should have said. I was never to her what I should have been. I knew death was inevitable, but I never expected it to be so close. I never expected for God to affirm death to me.
Some things just can’t wait until tomorrow. And all the little petty stuff eventually doesn’t matter. All the bickering becomes not worth it. Living life halfheartedly out of fear is unacceptable. If you have something to say, say it. If there is something you want to do, do it. If you want to love someone, love them. Who cares what the world may think or say. Second, third and sometimes fourth chances are needed. Who cares if it is the biggest risk you will ever take. I would chance failure or objection, rather than to anticipate a tomorrow that never comes.
I”ll leave with you with this: There was a man drowning in the ocean and a boat came by and said sir we can help you, get on the boat. And the man replied “It’s okay, God is going to save me.” A little while later, a second boat came by and said sir get on the boat, we can save you. And again the man replied “It’s okay, God is going to save me.” Some time later the man drowned. And when he got to heaven, he asked God “Why didn’t you save me?” And God replied, “I sent you two boats.”
Sometimes there does not have to be divine intervention. Sometimes the thing is already right in front of our face, but we are too busy waiting for something miraculous. Sometimes all that is needed is for someone to take the first step. Don’t miss your today, waiting for tomorrow.
“Yesterday is not ours to relive, for we cannot change it. Tomorrow is not ours to plan, because it is not promised. But today is ours to take the leap because we can build from our yesterdays, in hopes of the tomorrows that God may so graciously give us.” STW