My parents never spoke about my beloved sisters Margie and Jane as the pain too hard for them. I followed their lead and did not mention Margie and Jane. For years when asked how many siblings I had, my breath stopped, and I answered, “Just me.” Tt’s a challenging question for almost all bereaved siblings. Today I state, “I am the middle of three, and sadly, I lost both my sisters.”

When Jane died, someone said to me, “There will be a day when you will forget your sister.” For years, this haunted me. I lost memories and squashed any mention of Margie and Jane.

Years later, a friend commented on how odd it was that I didn’t talk about my sisters. By then, many memories had dissipated. Through therapy, looking at photos, and sharing my sisters, stories are developing, some I never knew. Now I speak their names.

Will I ever remember the minute details like their favorite color, a particular fight we had, or the name of the restaurant we celebrated a birthday? Despite our differences, my two sisters secured my foundation. We shared our strengths, our weaknesses, our darkness, our light, our cries, our laughter, and most of all our unconditional love.

One friend shares that she went into disability law due to the struggles Margie faced with mental illness. Another friend fondly remembers as young girls riding bicycles throughout the neighborhood, Margie always with a big smile.

Jane’s friend told me how they went through my room, and Jane insisted they put everything back the exact way it was when they came in. I found this amusing as Jane never thought me “cool.”

My mother shared a story with my daughters about my sisters and me that I do not recall. My father came home from work and my mother had baked a cake. When my father asked what kind of cake, my sisters and I chimed in together, “Duncan Hines.”

Today when friends talk about their siblings, I still have a hole in my heart. Still, I interject with my stories of Margie and Jane rather than sit quietly not acknowledging my sisters. I suppose my putting up the wall for many years sent a signal to others not to come in and now that I have let the wall down, more are welcome to come in and share and speak their name. I am grateful. It is new for me and did not happen overnight and still a work in progress.

So often when we lose our siblings, other are at a loss and uncomfortable what to say or acknowledge our loss. Speak their names. Share a story. The memories are what we hold onto.

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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, healing and the recipient of the US Figure Skating 2020 Get Up Award. My memoir Celebration of Sisters: It is Never Too Late To Grieve will be published in December 2021. It is my goal to advocate for sibling loss to insure surviving siblings are neither alone nor forgotten.

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