One life ends, and a new chapter begins. My father’s decline and ultimate death emancipated me, letting the reins loose that I held so tightly. My father and I had spoken daily. I knew the loss of my father, another colossal void in my life, would ensure a huge devastating blow to me.

The clock started ticking to do the work necessary to grieve for my sisters, Margie and Jane, who had died years before. My father’s departure altered and transformed the family nucleus. How do we pick up the pieces of a broken family where the crystal had been shattered? Where do I begin to heal a fragmented self? The glue that kept the family together was my father.

The time had come to finally mourn and grieve the loss of beloved sisters Margie and Jane after 30 years.

In Temple one Saturday on a dreary rainy March day in 2010, Margie’s friend came up and asked if we could find a time to meet. She had something to say to me. I had seen this friend on and off over the years. My knee-jerk reaction of keeping my wall and guard up declined. I said I would get back to her.

Stunned. Why did she want to talk to me? Why now? As I pondered and thought it over, my mind changed. How astounding with Margie ill for 20 years and gone for 20 years that a friend is still thinking about my Margie. On second consideration, I needed to hear what Margie’s friend wanted to reveal.

My nerves were exhausted as I met Margie’s friend. She told me back in high school, Margie had taken her to a function that changed her life. This ultimately veered her career onto a path that rewarded her. Margie’s friend wanted me hear the tale.

After shedding tears, and recovering my breath, I was incredibly happy to hear the story. How grateful to know that after all the pain and suffering Margie endured, she changed someone’s life for the better? I always knew my Margie had a generous spirit in the way she treated me. At times, it was so hard to separate that from that torrential illness.

I ran into one of Jane’s friend twice in a period of three months after 30 years. I reached out to her to meet for coffee. No expectations about the encounter; I just felt the time had come. Some of her friends had intimidated me in my youth, but they could not have that impact now.

I believe she more nervous than I was. She told me I needed to let go of the sadness surrounding my birthday. I had held onto it since my birthday was the last time I had seen Jane. Jane would want me to celebrate, her friend said.

We talked about Jane, how she lived her life on the edge, and about her final toast on her 22nd birthday the night before she died, saying she had no job, no home, but she had lots of friends. Unfortunately, she never lived to discover her options or what exciting avenues to pursue. Her friend felt sad for Jane, as did I, hearing those final words my sister said.  My heart broke for my lost little sister and wished I somehow could have helped her.

She promised to keep in touch, which she did not. Perhaps seeing me too painful for her. Hearing that Jane is still in the minds of her friends did provide me with some comfort.

The accumulation of my father’s passing and my running into Margie and Jane’s friends were clearly a sign for me to get to work on grief. No more roadblocks, no more obstacles, time to pull off the Band-Aid and uncover all the layers of grief, my journey wherever it leads me.

 

 

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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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