She walked with us but yesterday.
But yesterday – or so it seems –
We shared each others dreams, our woes,
We shared our wild and foolish dreams.
Now there is silence where she spoke,
Nor can she hear what we would say,
But all she was is with us still,
And we are glad for yesterday.
-Phillip Larkin (from the poem “Church Going”)
Last year at this time, I wrote “A Valentine for Nita,” telling about some of my sister’s struggles throughout her life, and now, with cancer.
She said, “It’s like you did my eulogy while I’m still alive!”
I denied it, but was careful, after that, to respect her privacy. All of us that love her dealt in our own way with her illness, but her struggle was hers alone.
I was down-state last month when Nita took a turn for the worse. I was able to see her, and let her know I care. Before I came home, I was able to see that her pain was being managed, and that hospice was there to help. The day that I left, I gave her a big hug and told her, “I love you.”
Then I drove home.
My brother and sisters arranged their time around Nita’s care. We’re becoming old hands at this. Nita’s children were there, along with nieces, nephews and friends, each as they could be, and as needed to help. Hospice was wonderful.
Here on Beaver Island, back at my own work, I was away from the fray. I was with them in spirit only. I wasn’t there for the changes and the frights and the occasional “melt-down,” but my heart went out to them all, every day. I could hardly think of anything else. I didn’t want to write about it, but everything else seemed unimportant in comparison.
Nita was dying, but every one that knew her and loved her had their own challenges.
Nita’s struggle ended today, in the early hours of the morning.
As for the rest of us, we struggle on without her.