I stepped onto the ice after a hiatus of ten days, a substantial break for an adult figure skater to lack practice. Ice skating is my passion, a major focal point in my life, and a sport shared with my beloved sisters Margie and Jane. My legs were shaky as I tried to warm up on the ice and tears streamed down my face. Puzzled by the reaction upon my return to ice skating. I stroked around and got my legs back under me. Somehow, I muddled through my skating lesson and the remainder of the skating session.

The interruption in my routine was due to spending eight glorious days in New York celebrating the birth of my first grandchild named after my beloved father Benjamin. Holding the baby boy for the first time, sleeping in my arms, I whispered, “Hi Benji, it’s your Mimi.” He opened his eyes and looked directly at me. I melted, an instant love. This feeling I will never forget and treasure forever.

When I got home, settled down, and had some time to think, I realized why I had such an overwhelming emotional reaction. The birth of my Benji changed me.

When my sisters Jane and Margie died, I experienced the same feeling, except the total opposite end of the spectrum. The first day I returned to work after my sisters died, I vividly recall shaking and crying, the same feeling I had on the ice after the birth of Benji. The death of my sisters changed me.

I walked back into Bloomingdale’s the first day back after Jane died and could feel my body shaking. It was quite clear that returned was not the same. I did not hold it together and started weeping as I stepped into the offices. A very kind coworker escorted me into his office, where I sat down and cried. I did not expect to have that reaction. I had always been so strong and held everything and everyone together.

Being November and the height of the Christmas season in retail, yearly sales contingent on this condensed period, I knew I had to compose myself. I worked for a tyrant of a boss who had no tolerance for any crying o. Had I cried in front of her, my career in retail finished.

I found myself walking through the motions of life like a robot, often times my concentration floating away. Working in retail and customer demands seemed so frivolous. No choice but to smile and provide excellent customer service and attempt to hold onto my stellar job performance. I had no one to talk to, no clue what I felt, so I just kept moving. No time to think about the fact that I buried my precious younger sister Jane. On the outside no one knew I lost my sister. I did not talk about it with anyone.

Dealing with the reaction or non-reaction from others, my instability, inability to focus, and needing to grieve all factored in. I did not want to cry in front of coworkers so I forged ahead with the exception of the initial walk in.

Today, with all that I have lost, I am so grateful for all that I have gained. Yes, I am incredibly sad that my Margie and Jane are not here to share this with me. I think about them each and every day. My heart is full with new family, extended family, a new precious life, a new beginning, and a new love.

 

 

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Judy Lipson

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 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. Ice skating is a sport shared by me and my sisters and a chord throughout my life. It has brought me full circle to pay tribute to my sisters and bring me joy, peace and healing. 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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