My sister-in-law died a few weeks ago. It’s been incredibly hard for me to wrap my mind around. She was only 39, and sadly had her last birthday was spent in the hospital. If we would have known it was her last, we would have celebrated differently. I wonder now if the doctors knew she wouldn’t make it and simply didn’t tell anyone because of how traumatic it was. Knowing someone is dying is not an easy thing to deal with. When we did find out she wasn’t going to make it, we had two days to say our goodbyes. How the hell do you say goodbye??
Death does not answer to anyone. It leaves no explanations.
I was not super close to my sister-in-law, but I definitely underestimated her place in my life, and what she meant to me. My son and I talked about this and he expressed the same feelings. We didn’t realize what she meant to us until it was too late.
The one thing she and I bonded over were our love for books. If the two of us went to the library together, which we did often over the last year, it’d drive people crazy. We’d roam among the shelves and try to remember every book we wanted to come back for. I’m so thankful for those experiences, even if it makes going to the library hard for awhile.
Grieving is emotionally exhausting. Life has been changed irrevocably, and when that concept hits me it’s surreal. Everything seems so…shattered. The anger and frustration eventually well up, and tears take over. But I have to put it away and get back to life. Carrying around the heaviness of my sadness makes being productive REALLY hard. I only truly let go when I’m alone-when I can admit to myself how utterly helpless I feel.
I see her daughters, the eldest who turned 18 earlier this year, and know that their world has been changed in a way that is so profound, they will never be the same again. They’ll get through it because they have to, and because they know their mother would want them to. But if we had a choice in the matter, death would have left her alone.
But death answers to no one. And neither does time.
So I’ve learned to manage my grief as best I can, the way humans do with everything else in life they have no control over. I wait. I feel. I breakdown, I cry. I pick myself up, tell her I love her, but I have to keep going.