Revelations Along the Grief Ride

The amusement park rides illustrate the trajectory of revelation and power of change. Every ride makes us feel different sensations, from the slow to the chilling speed of the roller coaster to the flowing music as the vibrant horses of the merry-go- round move up and down. The smiles, excitement, and thrill, to the disappointment, anguish and torment at not winning a game or at the completion of the ride and wanting to go again and again.

My revelations since my discovery and efforts on grief after years of abandonment feel like I am at the amusement park again with my family, reliving the uphill and downhill, the glitter and bland, the noise and quiet, the anticipation and setback, but most of all the glory of those precious times and what they revealed.

The fast speed of the downhill roller coaster accelerating from 1981 to 2011, 30 years after the death of Jane, the beginning of the clock turning, the reveal commencing, the change in reveal from its infancy with more panels to complete, the year I started working on myself, the time I finally grieved for my sisters Margie and Jane.

Every day a new revelation, some pleasant, some dark, some colorful, some bittersweet, and some I never know the outcome. What a roller-coaster ride, how exciting! It reminds me of how my sister Jane would insist on a visit to Paragon Park, an amusement park at Nantasket Beach in Hull, MA every summer before we went away to overnight camp.

Margie and Jane shared a love for tennis. The two attended camps that specialized in the sport. They also stayed home together when I was away at camp, cementing that bond between the two of them.

Although Jane and I stood as polar opposites in our personalities, demeanor and temperament, as sisters undeniably shared commonalities.  We both worked in retail, the same department store, a trait we probably inherited from our grandmother who worked selling handbags until age 84. And we both loved working with children. Jane excelled in her work at early education centers where she received rave review. I love teaching children how to ice skate.

The core of our similarity is our deep down insecurity. To me, Jane always presented herself to be self assured covering up a girl struggling with her identity, direction, and purpose.

Margie and I loved music. We both took guitar lessons. I lasted about a minute, she stuck to it and I veered onto piano and still continue to play. We are both prolific readers, creative and into many crafts, enjoying playing cards and board games.

All three of us liked listening to music, the beach, birthdays, riding bicycles, and having sisters. The Lipson sisters loved travel. My father took us on great trips. My fondest memory is our last trip together in California in 1979. We visited Los Angeles, drove up the coast to San Francisco, went to Disneyworld, saw Judy Collins in concert, met Alan Hale from Gilligan’s Island and had many fights but more laughs.

The evolution of change impacts my view on priorities, time, relationships, and where I go from here. I am still in progress and making mistakes along the way trying to be more authentic, open, and fostering my needs. The work is arduous and requires diligent upkeep and some days are taxing. The rewards immeasurable. I am far from perfect but am more aware of me. Being a sister is in who I am. Grief does define part of me. I can’t change the history. I can amend the route of how it places in the choices I make going forward.

Doing the work on grief the past years has been a true revelation not only about grief, about change, my sisters Margie and Jane, my parents, my daughters, and Judy the introvert middle sister. Change is not easy for most especially after patterns established, roles in the family secured, and set images of expectations. Judy, the strong, resilient daughter always there for everyone.

The caretaker role fell on me at age fourteen. Trying to take a step back and taking care of Judy alter after numerous years necessitates vast transformations. As I look in the mirror reflecting who I see, who others see, who I want to be, reveals a caterpillar turning into a beautiful butterfly. My father presented me with a butterfly necklace when I graduated from college that I wore every day. Unfortunately, I lost it several years ago. Perhaps it was a sign that Judy moved on. Judy spread her wings and is ready to fly. Time to change.

Three sisters although so many differences revelations reveal so many similarities as sisters’ share that for me has been the most consoling of all. Margie and Jane embedded in every fiber of me, my true compass, today and always.

 

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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