Thanksgiving has now passed and Christmas is fast approaching and for the past few weeks I have felt a heaviness of sorrow. It has been approximately 99 days since my sister passed and it is still hard for me to believe that she is gone. I used to be the most emotional person in the world and would cry at the drop of a hat but, I am having a hard time grieving. I want to understand why my sister is gone. I think if I hold back my sorrow, I will wake up from this horrible dream. I have had some moments that I have been laying in bed and wet drops of salty sorrow (tears) fall down the side of my face and roll into my ears when I think about her. Her passing leaves me with an abyss of emptiness.
My sister Elaine just called me on the phone a few minutes ago and she was crying. She was putting up her Christmas tree with all the ornaments and other items for the tree that once belonged to Loretta and it became too emotional for her. She told me that Navier her seven year old grandson saw her crying and came over to her and hugged her and said “Grandma don’t cry; you will see her again when Jesus comes.” What Navier said gave her some comfort but, she was still sad. My sister also asked me if I thought about Loretta; and I do all the time.
I learned a lot of things about my sister Loretta at her memorial service. I knew that my sister was such a giving person but, I never knew the magnitude of her giving and just how far it spread. I learned that she that she made home cooked meals during the holidays and sought out homeless people under bridges and other places throughout the city and fed them hot meals to bring them joy.
My sister always would make that call to me around the end of October or beginning of November to inquire if I had a turkey for Thanksgiving because she had one for me if I had not made my purchase yet. During Christmas she always had a gift under the tree for anyone who entered her home; even strangers.
Her untimely passing has made me have lots of regrets. I regret that I did not spend more time with her. I took for granted that she was always a phone call away. I must admit that during the holidays, I would spend time with my husband’s family and would catch up with my family after the fact. This year, I changed that. I love my family and I decided this year that I would not spend my Thanksgiving and the Sabbath following Thanksgiving without them. We had so much fun. Every year for the past four years Mario’s family has met at Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky for Thanksgiving and it was so nice for my family to be there. Now everyone could not attend, but it is our family goal to become part of that tradition.
On this past Sabbath after Thanksgiving, I had a big dinner for my family and we had a ball. Yes, there were moments when I reflected on my sister wishing she could be there but, everything happens for a reason. Her passing has made draw closer to my family. I have made contact with my other sisters and my mother every night since her passing. It might just be an “I am thinking of you”, a “Good Night”, I Love you” or, for Elaine and Hope, it is often just a smiley face by text. I also speak to my brother who lives in Louisiana more often. I can now admit that getting married and starting my own family made me often put my family on the back burner. Now while it was not intentional, it happened. I lost time with my family that can never be replaced and I lost a sister who I am now wishing I could still talk to. I have vowed to get closer and stay closer.
The last four weeks of my sister’s life I let her know that I loved her and I apologized to her for anything that I did that may have hurt her and I let her know I was dorry for the lost time. Even down to the last minutes and seconds of her life, I whispered in her ear that I loved her with all my heart.
Why am I sharing all this? All families have drama. We all do and say things that we regret but, do not allow the dynamics of drama to take away your focus on the family. When I think of a scripture that reflects just how much we should value time, I think of James 4:14 in a few different versions:
Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. (King James Version)
The reality is you have no idea where your life will take you tomorrow. You are like a mist that appears one moment and then vanishes another. (The Voice Version)
You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Your life is like a fog. You can see it for a short time, but then it goes away. (Easy to Read Version)
James 13-15 And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.” (The Message Version)
Just remember that tomorrow is not a given; it is nothig but a hope!! Tragedy can come in a moment’s notice, at the blink of an eye. Don’t miss your opportunity to say I love you, I am sorry or I was just thinking about you and wanted you to know it. Take the opportunity today, because tomorrow is not promised.
Missing my big sister with all my heart!
© 2013 – Arlene Castañeda
Loretta Taylor Hall
April 29, 1955 – August 27, 2013