Celebration of Sisters: Full Circle After 30 Years

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Celebration of Sisters, an annual ice skating fundraiser to honor and commemorate the lives and memories of my sisters Jane E. Lipson and Marjorie E. Lipson to benefit The John D. Stoeckle Center for Primary Care Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital. Ice skating is my passion, solace, peace, and where I have come full circle in my grief to remember and pay tribute to my sisters.

I lost my beloved sister Jane at age 22 in an automobile accident in 1981, and my beloved sister Margie at age 35 in 1990 after a 20-year battle with anorexia and bulimia. My father’s death in 2011 one week before the inception of the first Celebration of Sisters set me free to finally mourn for my sisters and bring them back into my life and heart where they truly belong. I always felt a piece of me missing and needed my sisters with me to feel whole.

My journey the past 5 years to mourn for my sisters after 30 years has been a road map of twists, turns, bumps, ditches, sunshine, rainbows with a destination of a halo of warmth, peace, joy, bittersweet emotions, sadness, resilience, love and happiness. I am and always will be Judy the middle of three sisters.

Growing up the three of took ice skating lessons. Margie skating beautifully, Jane and I skated recreationally. As I glide across the ice I feel free, the weight of the world gone, my sisters with me. To those who see me skate, the reflection is evident in my face and movements. On the ice I recall my sisters, and am away from my pain for that, “One Moment In Time” (one of the songs I performed to at Celebration of Sisters).

Choosing the correct piece of music to skate for Celebration of Sisters is extremely important. The lyrics must have meaning, be comparable to the theme of the event, and reverberate with my soul. My music selection reflects the love for my cherished sisters, Jane and Margie. As I viewed one of The Open To Hope Foundation shows I came across a touching song that resonated with me.

The song poignantly written by two siblings, one of who tragically passed away shortly after I heard the song “We Will Never Be Apart.” The eloquent words rung true to me more than any other song.

Celebration of Sisters takes place in November as Jane’s birthday is November 6th and Margie’s birthday November 8th. Coincidentally our 5th Celebration of Sisters in 2105, the date fell on Margie’s birthday. It warms my heart that after so many years my sisters Jane and Margie are still loved and not forgotten.

My wonderful skating coach choreographed a gorgeous number that showcased my deepest sentiment and emotions how I feel about my sisters. Trust me I cried many tears as I practiced with the music, yet the lyrics of this emotional song pulled me through. I dedicated my performance to my adored sisters Jane and Margie, to Michael, and to all lost siblings.

My skating performance is about my journey, healing, the piece of me that will always miss my sisters, re-discovering me, the independent 25-year old who got lost and buried when Jane died in 1981. I hope my sisters would be laughing and proud to see their sister Judy coming into her own and finding herself. Look at Judy the shy sister wearing a pretty skating dress out there skating before a large audience.

Celebration of Sisters is my gift to my treasured sisters and all lost siblings. The legacies of my dearest Jane and Margie live on in me, my daughters, and in all who share my beautiful sisters.

 

“WE WILL NEVER BE APART”

 

“How can I find hope without you?

You who have been my truest friend

Lifting my soul through heartache and fear

Again and again

 

We will never be apart, we’re sisters

I will always be there by your side

There are simply bonds that can’t be broken

By distance or time

There won’t be a day when I’m not with you

You will always be safe in my heart

Waiting for that world when at last

Our sorrow our past

But until that time

We will never be apart”

 

Book/story co-writer J.Michael Call* and Colette Call Lofgren

Composer/Lyricist Colette Call Lofgren

 

*in blessed memory

 

Judy Lipson

More Articles Written by Judy

I am a sister who sadly lost both my sisters. I lost my younger beloved sister Jane died at age 22 in an automobile accident in 1981, and my older beloved sister Margie passed away at age 35 after a 20-year battle with anorexia and bulimia in 1990. I am the sole surviving sibling. As the Founder and Chair of “Celebration of Sisters,” this annual ice skating fundraiser honors and commemorates the lives and memories of my beloved sisters to benefit The John D. Stoeckle Center for Primary Care Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA. The event is scheduled the first Sunday in November as Jane’s birthday was November 6th and Margie’s November 8th. We celebrate all lost siblings, their legacies as they live on in all of us. Since the inception of Celebration of Sisters in 2011, I have embarked on the journey to mourn the losses of my beloved sisters that had been suppressed for 30 years. The process unmistakably the greatest challenging time in my life proved to be the most empowering, enlightening and freeing. Now that I am allowing my sisters and their memories to return to my heart where they truly belong, I am re-discovering myself, happier and more at peace. I share my love of ice-skating as a skating instructor in the learn to skate programs at the Babson Skating School and Bay State Skating School, and as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Therapeutic Skating Program at The Skating Club of Boston. I live in Boston and am the mother of two grown daughters. It is my goal to advocate for sibling loss to insure surviving siblings are neither alone nor forgotten.

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  • Stephen says:

    Hello,

    I was 15 yrs old, my brother was a Vallejo, Ca. Police cadet, wanting to be a Police Officer, he and his best friend were going to go through the academy together, but God had other plans. He was 16 yrs old, killed with his own gun – 357 magnum (accident). I am a Christian then/now.

    I look at pictures on the wall in my house of a family with 2 kids, 2 different fathers, same mother, the kids are younger in the first picture, a little older in the next, and I wonder who the young person is, I look at his face, I study it, but I don’t know who that is, I don’t recognize him, I look at the older kid, he seems real familiar, but I haven’t seen him in a real long time. The younger kid is me, but I don’t know who he is, the older one is my brother, whom I remember only for a short time in my life, I wonder what it would have been like, as I watch some television shows like Blue Bloods, with the brothers that are cops, that had a brother die, but they still have each other, I wonder what my life would have been like had I had a brother for that long period of time, to actually grow up together, to actually have memories of those times growing up.

    I look at the picture in the kitchen on the wall, I study it very carefully, I look at the eyebrows of the individual, I look at the contours of his face, I look at his neck, I look at his hair, I look at his eyes, I look at his smile, I try to burn his image in my mind, so that the brief memories that I have of him in this world, can be renewed in my mind, that is all I have of him, that is all that is left, pictures. A tear starts to form in my mind, my eyes, as I try to remember who this person is, what this person means to me, why I couldn’t get on/move on with my life without him, its most likely an answer I’m never going to get, until possibly the day of my death, which as a Christian I should embrace, but as I am a poor Christian, the though, the sound of death frightens me, why? Growing old should be embraced & accepted, but why does this scare me? Outside of my parents, some family members, some close friends, there is nothing keeping me to this world, why would I want to hang on to what I consider a wasted life.

    My heart aches, the panic ensues, where is this rush of fear coming from, to be afraid of things, that you have no control over, to realize that your old, and your life is practically over, what more is there for me/you to do, your health is at an all time low, your favorite foods in life are killers to your body, your mind can only take so many of the food commercials before it goes crazy, you can’t even watch your favorite movies, or television shows without thinking about your age, your parents age, how long you have left in this world, how long your parents, your family has left in this world before it goes all away; and yet the evil that is within your heart, the evil that has plagued you for over 30 years, still haunts you, still plagues you, still curses your every thought. No matter how much or how long you have fought this, no matter who is here now, or who was here then, is of no consequence, the evil knows no bounds, it attacks forever, and the only way to defend it is with Jesus.

    Diagnosed with MDD (Major Depression Disorder or Clinical Depression), health issues such as IBS and OAS (Oral Allergy Syndrome: being allergic to all fresh fruit, to all fresh vegetables, and all nuts), milk is gone for me, cheese and ice cream are on their way, fried foods are pretty much gone for me, grilled foods are pretty much gone for me, most chocolates are gone, butter is gone for me, bacon is gone for me, peanut butter is gone for me, there are other foods, but I forget which and what right now. I am on disability(mental), the lack of many things in this life, finally got to me, that of having a life, being normal in the sense, having no wife, no kids, no career, no goals, not much self-confidence, not much self-esteem, having Spiritual Issues as well.

    I wish you well in your life, you have my sympathy.

    God Bless!!

    Stephen

  • Aimee Mroz says:

    I sometimes wonder how my childhood would have been different without the deaths of my brother in 1976 and then my sister in 1983. The feeling evoked by the loss of a loved one is all too familiar. And I can’t remember a time when I did not know this sense. For someone experiencing this for the first time, my heart breaks for them. From time to time, my constant state of being forever changed by the consuming experience of loss has spawned my intellectual grasp for emotional balance on the teeter-totter of grief. Michelle E. Steinke wrote in her HuffPost article, “That duality can cause constant reflection, and a deeper appreciation of all life has to offer”. And I have learned to remind myself, “Grief is the price we pay for LOVE” and “I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it”.

    • Aimee Mroz says:

      I reflect on that time in my life as just surviving. I felt like not only did I lose my siblings, but I also lost my parents. Today I wonder what would have made the experience more bearable. I have thought about words that may have comforted me then, and who could have been the one to deliver them. The words would go something like this:

      You are experiencing a deep sorrow, which many people are not forced to feel until they are much older. At times you may find that it’s hard to relate to other kids who have not experienced a huge loss. This tragic event has changed you, and that’s okay. Recognize some days you may feel overwhelmed, and when that happens, remember to eat some ice cream and go to bed early holding onto to the thought that tomorrow is a brand new day. Believe in the good that can come from a devastating loss. You may gain an appreciation for the simple gift of living each day. You may feel a greater compassion for others.You may find the courage to treat a stranger with kindness. You may forgive others faults more easily. You may discover the power of being vulnerable. You may learn the beautiful art of transforming pain into acts of love to make the world better. Always remember grief is the price we pay for LOVE, and even though you can be changed by the things that happen to you, you can refuse to be reduced by them. Never stop asking yourself this question, “What am I willing to struggle for?”