By Anne Dionne —
A couple of years after my son Michael died, I was sorting through some things which I had saved from our children’s school years. I came across a Valentine card which depicts a little girl surrounded by heart symbols. “Stuck on you Valentine!,” the card reads. On the back of the card is seven-year-old Michael’s hand-written signature. The card was to his big sister Kelly.
The emotional bond between Kelly and Michael was formed very early. Almost three years older, Kelly was excited about the prospect of welcoming her new brother into the world. When I was pregnant with Michael, we didn’t know the baby’s gender in advance. “It’s not a girl,” Kelly had insisted. “He’s my brother, and his name is Michael!”
The relationship between our two children was not unlike that of many other healthy siblings. Kelly and Michael were daily companions and playmates during the early years. They had their bouts of sibling rivalry, too, which on some days would drive me insane! Their love for each other was solid, however. On one particular evening, after a day of almost non-stop arguing between the two of them, while they were lying in their beds I heard, “`Night Mike, I love you!” “`Night Kelly, I love you!”
At age 19, Michael died in an automobile accident while Kelly was away at college. Kelly has had to learn how to be an only child. She has had to define for herself a new identity, a difficult task as a young adult. I am confident that the bond which was formed between them will remain forever.
Kelly is married and shares her new home with her husband and an adorable Pug named Otto. They occasionally spend a weekend at our house and sleep in Kelly’s old bedroom, where Michael’s “Stuck on you Valentine!” card can still be found on the night stand as a symbol of a bond that will never die.
Anne Dionne has been actively involved with The Compassionate Friends (TCF) organization since the death of her son, Michael, in 2001. She currently serves as Coordinator of TCF Online Support Community. She has been a workshop presenter at the National Conference of The Compassionate Friends for the past three years. Anne is a registered nurse, wife and mother. She co-authored the grief book, Every Step of the Way: How Four Mothers Coped with Child Loss, and was a guest presenter on the web-radio series, Healing the Grieving Heart. Anne continues to share her personal story of loss and hope with various church groups and local communities through writing and public speaking. It is in reaching out to help others that Anne finds healing and recovery through her own grief journey.Tags: belongings, funerals, money, grief, hope