I used to call her sissy. I barely remember that, and it seems so improbable now, but I did.
This one thought keeps circling in my head: How do you mourn a sister?
I can’t imagine it. I can’t fathom it. But I’m doing it.
Last Sunday, June 15, my sister’s cancer journey came to an end. She was 53.
Charlotte was about 14 when my mom married her dad, he adopted me and he became our dad. I was just a baby. I didn’t have a childhood without her in it.
As a teenager she had to share a room with a toddler. I’m sure that totally sucked for her, and was maybe why she moved out when she was 19. But for 5 years she was stuck with me.
I remember her high school girlfriends all treated me like I was their little sis too. I’m even Facebook friends with one of them to this day.
I remember when I was 6 or 7 I thought of her with such awe. She was amazing. She was beautiful. She danced, performed, with big hair and gorgeous leotards, with a dance group and I wanted to be her. My mom tried to put me in dance but I was painfully shy. I quit immediately, except in my own living room … where one time I did a flip and fractured my wrist. I didn’t have her grace.
I was the flower girl in her wedding when I was 7. She was such a grown-up to me. She was only 20, but I was still in such awe of the beautiful, dynamic creature going through this incredible ritual. That’s MY sister?
When I was 10 years old I became an aunt to this goofball:
And then these two: Years ago, when I was barely done being a kid myself, I’d babysit, pick them up from school when she couldn’t, and sometimes take them to gymnastics. I loved being their young aunt.
It was when I was a late teen and even more after I finished high school, thereabouts, when my sister and I became the adult (ish) version of being sisters. This is when her inappropriate jokes started to make sense. When I understood her “titty twister” threats. When I realized how she could say shocking things and get away with it because she did it with a laugh and a smile.
For awhile we did a lot of things together. Her family plus me & my boyfriend (at the time) went to Disneyland together, Las Vegas for dad’s wedding (where all 7 of us shared 1 cozy room!), and to the lake or camping together. We had the best time.
She lived her life fearlessly. She advocated for her children fiercely. In a lot of ways, she was a role model mother as much as my own mom has been. A younger, more modern mom role model (sorry mom) that I could compare my mom against – and I’d like to think I’ve healthily incorporated both of them into my mothering.
She was determined to live her life according to her desires. I really admired that in her. Whenever she wanted something she figured out how to get it. She managed, somehow, and she gave her kids a wonderful life with myriad experiences. They always knew how much they were loved.
Later – after our parents split, and when I moved to Idaho to live with dad & go to college, and then met my husband and got married – my sis and I had some conflicts. I’m not going to go into that, I’d rather forget it to be honest, but I really wish that time had been different. I wish my kids had known their aunt more. I wish she had known & loved my kids.
But I know I loved her. I loved her light, her positivity, and her bright soul.
Tell me – how do you mourn a sister?