For my “sister” Sue

I have not blogged in almost a month. During that time I have had to endure a number of events regarding my health and my heart mostly relating to the loss in my life. My last blog was written March 12 when I prepared to visit my cousin. She was the true sister I always wished I could have, not the sibling that I ended up with.

I did travel back to my hometown to see her. I stayed with another cousin from the other side of my family who was gracious enough to offer me a bed. Part of me wanted to stay longer than three nights, but the controlling part of me said my stay would be unwelcomed after that. I firmly believe in the saying “Fish and guests start to smell after three days.”  I can’t help it. I have to go.

I did see my cousin. I didn’t get the hours alone with her walking down memory lane refreshing our memories of our times together as I had so hoped. Our time alone was limited by others dropping in to see her. I was too tired to see her on Monday afternoon. The train ride was an event in itself that I will blog about some time soon. I spent the time visiting with my hostess cousin and her two daughters. I was the “girls'” first babysitters when they were newborns. Now they are in their 50s with grandchildren of their own. I hadn’t seen them since the mid 80s.

On Tuesday I did have about three hours with Sue while her husband ran errands. The time was filled much of the time by the hospice nurse. Sue napped and then the grandkids arrived after school. The next day about 1/2 hour after my arriving, a group of her friends arrived to hold a “birthday” party for her. They all left after a couple of hours except one who decided to visit. I tried to be subtle an hour later trying to get her to postpone her talking until she came back the following week. I pointed my head towards Sue and hoped she noticed that Sue had fallen asleep while she talked. She smiled and nodded and was quiet for about five minutes before Sue opened her eyes again.

I finally got up enough courage to ask her to come back. Sue and I had some family things we needed to discuss. She no sooner left than Sue fell asleep again. I let her sleep. Then the grandchildren arrived again along with one of  her sons who took off early to come see me, and her husband. I couldn’t force myself to say good bye. All I could do was say “Later”, kiss her forehead and smile as much as I could. I returned to the train station the following day. The next two weeks her son kept me informed by email of her status. I called her twice. Both times there were others in the house who had come to visit her and her husband. Our conversations were short. The last time she was on Vicodin and didn’t even sound like herself. I tried to ask her about her comments of seeing Jesus watching from the window. She said she was told it was probably just the drugs but she preferred to think what she saw was the real thing. I tried to ask her how he looked. “Was he dressed in modern clothes or was he traditional? ” I asked. “He looked like Jesus,” she replied.

Today a short service is being held for Sue along with a visitation. Sue transitioned Monday morning. She left me filled with regret that I had let so many years pass when we could have been closer somehow. I could have spent the money on long distance calls. I could have spent the time writing letters. I could have managed to visit her more often somehow. My life is full of could haves. Deciding to stay in Texas caused a separation that will never be filled.

Sue was there all the time if I had bothered to reach out. But I was a very busy teacher. I was a single mother. I spent ten years with CFS and fibromyalgia. I didn’t enjoy writing letters. She was a busy wife and a busy mother. She was very active in her sons’ lives. For several years she struggled on her own life path until thirteen years ago with an addiction. Her time was also filled.

Since I retired seven years ago I had the time to get closer. She had a plan that allowed for much cheaper long distance so she would call me. She finally got a computer so we could email. We saw each other at our cousins’ reunions and I visited her several times. We finally bridged the gap between us and became closer.

There is a guest book on line. I’ve been following the entries. People from many surrounding communities are leaving comments. Sue was quiet and unassuming. But the people who got to know her found a treasure. She, because of her life experiences, became quite a counselor to many others. She was always there with her brownies and cookies and casseroles whenever she felt there was a need.

I think she always felt “less than” because she didn’t graduate from college. She had some problems that I cannot remember ( I was in college myself at the time) and ended up with having to take one more course to complete her requirements for her B.A. I don’t remember the whole story but she called it quits instead of enduring that last semester. The world lost a great early education teacher. She taught in a private school for a few years then became a full time mother, never returning to college to obtain the needed piece of paper. Sue would have filled the love tanks for many children. She was just that kind.

Now Sue is gone. I tried several times to write this blog but it always ends up the same way. I type until the screen turns blurry and my nose starts to run.

I did not intend to blog today about this topic, but here it is. The idea for today will have to wait. This is in honor of Sue. She was the one person I could count on to read what I had to say. She seldom replied on the blog but we would talk about things I had written on the phone. She was my cheerleader. She was disappointed on days or weeks when I stopped writing, saying she missed her “Blog fix”. She was an avid follower. Many times I wrote just for her opinion. Somehow blogging knowing she is no longer reading does not seem the same.

She will be missed. She was one who did not hide her candle under a basket, even though her candle in many ways was a small one. It still gave out great warmth to those who found it. The world is a little bit darker this week. People who knew her will think of her and their hearts will feel a little bit heavy. They will sigh and swallow and perhaps shed a few tears. God, if only all of us could leave the world the same way. “Later, Sue.” Namaste. Attic Annie


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