Forever In Our Very Broken Hearts

July 28, 2011 at 12:21 pm (Family, Uncategorized)

I haven’t wanted to talk about this.  I feel like I don’t have the right to talk about this.  It’s not my story.  But it’s been such a huge part of my life.  Six months ago, our lives and the lives of people that we love were totally and irrevocably upended.  We’ll never be the same, and I don’t know what’s normal now.

I should start by saying that my sister is one of my best friends.  It wasn’t always this way, we fought like cats and dogs for years.  But after we passed out of the “You stole my doll/car stage,” I’ve come to see that she’s one of the wisest people I know.  We’ve shared hopes, dreams, frustrations, and joy.  We celebrated the births of our children together.

And last summer we discovered that we were both pregnant.  Again.

My beautiful niece was born on January 10, 2011.  My sister texted me at about 3 am, just letting me know she was about to start pushing.  Being pregnant myself, and a pregnant insomniac at that, I was awake.  I called her back and we chatted about how excited we were.  And then I hung up and waited for the call or text announcing the birth of my sister’s daughter.  That call never came.

My niece was born with a serious, undiagnosed genetic disorder, and my sister had barely had time to look at her daughter before they whisked her away.  I can’t even begin to imagine what my sister and her husband went through in those first hours, days and weeks.  My sister wasn’t ready to talk, and I was probably the last person she wanted to talk to.  I knew then that our relationship would never be the same.

It was hard for me.

And let me make it clear, that I know however hard it was for me, it was a million times harder for them.  I know that, and I’m not trying to minimize what they were going through.  I can’t even begin to fathom what they were going through.

I felt like an addict every single day.  Desperately needing to talk to my sister, but knowing that right now, talking to me was not what she needed.  So I texted her just to let her know that I loved her and kept waiting for the phone to ring.  It never left my side.  I knew their days were a myriad of pumping, staying with their daughter in the NICU, and trying to keep up a normal existence for their son.  And my children knew that the second their aunt called they were to leave me alone.  No interrupting whatsoever.

Taylor’s diagnosis came right around the time that my son was born.  We were devastated.  My emotions were ping ponging between  heartbreak for my sister, and elation for my son.  I know my sister was scared.  Scared to death that she would lose her daughter.  Scared for their future and it’s complete and total uncertainty.  I’m also guessing that there were probably millions of other fears that she never told me about.

Eventually Taylor was stable enough to come home.  We were overjoyed.  The worst was behind us, right?  Well, I think you know already that this story doesn’t have a happy ending.

I went to visit when we realized that her condition was much more serious than we though.  And I’m so glad that I did.  I got the chance to hug my sister and hold my niece.  I know my presence there was hard on my sister, especially because I needed to bring my son.  But we laughed.  Often.  I have one fantastic picture of my sister.  She had just come downstairs holding two crying infants.  Hers and mine.  She’s laughing, but pretending to cry.  I have to hold on to that memory.

I left.  Taylor got sicker.  Remembering the frantic phone call I got from my sister at the ER telling me Taylor wasn’t breathing.  That they were trying to restart her heart still sends my stomach to my feet.  Remembering her describe her flashbacks from those moments still breaks my heart.

The phone calls and updates from the PICU over the next few weeks held a little good news, and lots of bad news.  Telling my sister that it was OK to let her daughter go sends me reeling.

My sister’s beautiful little girl passed peacefully away on April 19th.  99 short days.

Throughout all of this, my sister and brother in law remain the strongest people I have ever known.  Their ability to look for love and joy in the midst of something so unfathomable and terrible are unparallelled.    I can not imagine what these past few months have been for them.  And they’ve shown nothing but pure, unadulterated grace.  While I hope that I never have to endure anything like what they have, if I ever do, I hope to have 1/100th of the strength and dignity that they’ve shown.

Lately I just don’t know what to do. Everything I say just seems to come out the wrong way.  And I want to be able to be there for my sister, but I don’t know how.  I’m realizing that I don’t think I can be there for her now.  I’m just not what she needs right now.  But I miss her so much.  So much that it hurts.  I know she can’t be near me right now, and it is breaking my heart all over again to watch her walk away.  I know that things will never be the same.  We’ll never share the same relationship we did before.  There will never be that ease of conversation anymore.  She’s a different person. Indelibly changed.  I’m different too.  And I’ve been holding on to what we had.  Mourning the relationship I had with my sister the way I’m mourning the loss of Taylor.

If I could talk to her, I would tell her that I love her so much.  That I think about her every single day.  That I reach for my phone at least 10 times a day to call her.   That I wish I could be there for her.  That I wish I could help her heal.  That I don’t know what to do.  That I’m scared to death of losing her.  That when we are ready, it will be too late.  That Taylor will forever be in our very broken hearts.

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