My sister-in-law died this morning.
We used to have the most ridiculous late night conversations, cracking up from behind our computer screens hundreds of miles apart, and then turning the corner into more serious territory, talking about raising children and weathering the storms of married life and what it was like to struggle through life in whatever way we happened to be struggling at the time. We talked about the funny things our kids said and did, about tattoos, about food, and music, and sometimes about her being sick.
Sister o’ mine, we called each other. I never knew her when she didn’t have cancer.
There aren’t any words for how it feels to hear your father-in-law’s voice shatter on the phone, or to try and will your husband to stay asleep just a little bit longer so you don’t have to tell him, or to try and imagine–and I can’t, my brain just shuts off when I try–what it’s like for her parents, her siblings, her aunts and uncles and her children… that’s where I just stop, and my mind won’t let me think anymore. She left behind four beautiful children, and they were truly her whole entire heart. I know this beyond a shadow of a doubt. And I feel so fucking small and pitiful, sharing my own grief when others closer to her are hurting so much, so much harder than I can even start to imagine. I feel like one of those horrid people who latches on to death and dying in some sick way that makes them feel larger and more important than they really are, and I hate that. But I miss her already, I miss the idea that someday we’ll be having drinks and laughing while she tells me all the goofy things her little brother did when he was small. I miss the idea of laughing at her description of her youngest on her first day of high school, still years away. I miss the idea of laughing with her, period. Even during the really hard parts, she was laughing.
And so this is where I’m putting my grief. Just for a minute, I’m going to think about how fucking stupid and unfair it is that things like this happen, and I’m going to hold the selfish thought that I’m never going to laugh with my friend again, and then I’m going to share some picture of sunflowers, because the world needs more pretty things to counter all the scary, ugly, miserable things we have to deal with otherwise.