To be Remembered…
Today is someone’s birthday. Today someone will marry and start a new life. Today has a new beginning for so many other’s hopes and dreams. It is on this day that life is also doling out loss, hardship and weighing others down. A loss so great that if it doesn’t kill you with grief, it somehow defines you with a certain darkness that will never let the sun shine quite so bright. We are the sum total of our experiences. The choices we make direct us. We cannot control all the events of our days, but we can define ourselves by what we do with the light and dark moments we are given.
My mother once said that I was a sunny child and my sister, Rebecca, was night. Cinderella and Snow White she called us in one photograph. It wasn’t that I never saw sadness or that Rebecca never saw happiness, it’s how we chose to wield the light and dark moments in our lives. My sister took her experiences and used them to inspire her to write. Her intellect, dramatic flair and wit is what defined her. Even through her periods of sickness, she could still find a reason to laugh… or to be a little surly and make us laugh. A stronger will to survive is not known to me. I, myself, do not possess that strength or half of her intellect. I am not an actress. My emotions are quite transparent, and I am not a charismatic bull-shit artist. My sister described me as a cold-pretty when we were younger. Apparently I’m only sunny to those who know me. I think this is part of my sit back and see what cards everyone is playing. My sister often had a Royal Flush. Someone you didn’t want to find on the other side of a heated debate. We often disagreed, and for years of our adult lives, I do not think we really knew each other. She was reading Shakespeare by the time she was nine and I wanted a Barbie Dream House.
When she had her stroke two years ago, they told us that would be the end. I suffered greatly thinking we would not have time to say goodbye. I think she heard the doctors and decided to prove them wrong. That night she did a complete turnaround and started repairing her heart. The speech therapist said she had never seen a language center so peppered with damage and that Rebecca would never speak again. For an English Professor this is a death sentence in itself. We never gave up on her speaking, and more importantly, she never gave up. She came a long way in her two years, and she struggled with multiple health issues that complicated reading further, but she read three novels in her last four weeks.
She was the one person I depended on to point me to a good book, and I often told her I needed her expertise again. There is a lot of junk to wade through before finding something to savor. I think this inspired her. I talked often of books I have read or something I was writing myself. Rebecca was much loved by our small family, and though she would have rather lived in New Jersey and taught right up until her last breath, I know she was happy to be loved and at home when she made her grand exit. My contemplation for the blog today is about taking the time to appreciate the strength in others and celebrate their accomplishments. Direct your life into the light and celebrate your own feats in a way that will impact others to speak well of you when you are gone.