Keeping Lost Siblings In Your Heart

I am a sister who sadly lost both my sisters. Although I will permanently have a hole in my heart, I am learning to embrace my beloved sisters to encompass an important place in my life. My sisters Margie and Jane are forever part of me, who I am, past, present and future. My heart is opening, and I am welcoming my sisters back into my heart where they truly belong.

I suppressed the grief of my beloved sisters for 30 years. In looking at pictures of my beloved sisters and me, I try to recall the beautiful memories of three sisters that I yearn to cherish and hold dear. With each year that passes, the depth of the losses intensifies. By bringing my sisters and their memories more present, I hope to find more peace, happiness and fulfillment in my life. Bringing up the memories is bittersweet. Although I may cry or feel sad, smile, or laugh, I cannot lose what scattered memories I can recall. My sisters Margie and Jane are with me now. The three of us share a beautiful smile.

I adored and idolized my older sister Margie. She always cherished me as well. Our age difference of two years cemented our close relationship, true soul mates. People commented on the resemblance between the two of us. Margie played the guitar and sang with an angelic voice. I admired her intellect. In junior high, the shortest member of the cheerleading squad, she also enjoyed playing tennis. Although Margie struggled with anorexia and bulimia for 20 years, I do not like to focus on her illness — instead, on my Margie, my true big sister. She always sensed what I felt; nothing about me went past her. She forever made me laugh.

My younger sister Jane stood out as an adorable child with her stunning blond hair. Being three years older, I took on the role of looking out for her. Jane cried a lot in her younger years but grew into a very social engaging young woman. She came to visit me when I lived in New York. At that time, in our 20s, how different we were! Although in elementary school, I walked her to and from school, and took care of her at overnight camp, as a young adult Jane definitely found her own voice. One would describe Jane as a true extrovert and myself a true introvert.

Our three unique personalities are reflected in pictures of the Lipson sisters. To look at the pictures now, I clearly see the independent character I always had. Dressed up in our party dresses, Margie and Jane sported red party shoes, me in black party shoes. When the three of us played in the backyard, we enjoyed the thrill of sliding down our slide. I have a cute picture of three sisters sitting legs around each other at the bottom of the slide, Margie and Jane with sandals on their feet, me with sneakers on my feet. Many times our mother dressed us alike in matching dresses. Poor Jane the youngest wore the same dress for 5 years!

The middle of three girls is not an easy spot to be in. I am the stereotype of the middle child. When my sisters died, I did not know where in the sibling order I came. Will I always be considered the middle? The youngest? The only child? After my sisters were deceased, instead of trying to be the one for three, or where I stood, I should have just remained me, Judy, the middle of three sisters. That is who I am and nothing can take that away.

Being the middle child, I always got pushed aside. After the tragedies, my parents’ world seemed to be focused on me. I found the new phenomenon very uncomfortable and lonely. My parents’ life now centered on my daughters and me. I felt immense pressure to be the daughter for three, to be strong, yet I seemed to be fading away as were my memories of Margie and Jane.

I lost my independence, a trait so important to me and who I am. I am now regaining that independence by re-discovering Judy. This lost sense of identity is something I am working to recapture. It is a work in progress and I look forward to the rewards.

I had shut down so many feelings for numerous years. I always felt incomplete. Truth be told, I needed my sisters with me even though they were not here. I always sensed a piece of me missing. By shutting my sisters out of my life due to the pain of it all, I did myself a huge disservice for all those years. I not only lost my sisters, I lost a sense of me.

Now that I’m keeping my sisters in my heart, I feel more whole. Of course I miss them terribly; however, they do live on in me and in my beautiful daughters who share a strong resemblance. I see parts of my sisters in each of my daughters. This truly warms my heart.

Many of my new friends that I have made within the past 30 years did not know my sisters. When asked how many siblings I have, I cringed, struggled and never wanted to answer truthfully. I answered, “just me,” rather than tell my story. I now tell the truth and want to share my sisters. My home reflects this new-found discovery with pictures of my sisters in every room. In my pocketbook, I keep pictures of my sisters so I can sense them with me always. I welcome stories about Margie and Jane.

Growing up, the three of us took ice skating lessons. Margie skated beautifully and could have gone far in her accomplishments. My parents decided against this due to the strong commitment and demands required on our family. Jane and I skated recreationally. I do remember we skated on a gorgeous outdoor rink that served the best hot chocolate!

Ice skating is now my passion. When I skate and dream that my sisters are with me, I skate with such joy. It is clear to those who see me skate, in my movements across the ice, and reflected in my facial expressions. I feel free.

Skating is a place where I have come full circle, doing something that I love, remembering my sisters, and taking me away from the pain for that one moment in time (a song by Whitney Houston I performed to on the ice). I think of my sisters and hope they are smiling down at their sister Judy and see how far she has come. I hope Margie and Jane would be proud to see their sister Judy coming into her own and finding herself. Judy, the shy sister now getting out on the ice and performing in front of large audiences!

Now that I am integrating my sisters into my life and my heart, I am finding more calmness and serenity. There will always be sadness but to honor Margie and Jane, I need to give back via my annual ice skating fundraiser, Celebration of Sisters, to benefit The John D. Stoeckle Center for Primary Care Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital. When I perform on the ice for Celebration of Sisters, my music selection reflects my love for my beautiful sisters Margie and Jane who are now always in my heart.

 

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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  • Paula Sulkin says:

    Wonderful, introspective article.

  • Dawn says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your life, I too am a middle child of 4 sisters and we lost our sister, to suicide in 2012 she was the other middle sister. I miss her so much. I still tell ppl there is 4 of us, because she will always be a part of us no matter what. My oldest sister took in her children and is they too will always know she is a part of them. Once again thank you

  • EMelo says:

    Thanks for sharing your story!
    I just lost my youngest sister at the age of 47, we were very close. She was the fittest of all of us, worked out every day, had a healthy low fat diet without junk, and after many years of breast issues the cancer monster invaded her body and ate her alive in 6 weeks. I was there for her, but we also had some issues which makes me feel guilty; I wish I had been more tolerant. Watching her go from being an extremely attractive, super fit strong woman to a skinny, debilitated, weak elderly woman was heartbreaking; within 3 weeks of her diagnosis she was spending the entire day in bed due to the pain, discomfort & weakness…during her last night at the hospital, where she was kept prisoner, her last clear word was ‘HELP” which really kills me because I know that she knew she was going to die…this night will haunt me for a long time!

    • Judy Lipson says:

      I am so sorry about your loss! Please take care of yourself. FYI The Compassionate Friends has Facebook sibling page that is private that is a wonderful way to share should you be interested. Siblings are the forgotten ones and it is important to recognize your loss and allow yourself to grieve the loss of your beautiful sister!
      Best,
      Judy