Sara Whitman

Waiting for the Birds

Filed By Sara Whitman | August 31, 2009 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: death in the family, dying family member, making peace

Well, Ms. Moon... I gotta say... it's been interesting. As life always is, right?

I am really well and awful, too. I'm here, last day, with my sister. She's very sick. Probably shouldn't be here but... one more night won't make a difference. Her night sweats and fever are back. Still in a lot of pain.

She's dying.

I think I realize that now. I don't think she can imagine the pain and struggle to get to another better place. She's still in the hospital, still in a horrible mindset and certain that's all that ever will be. Certain she's dying. No, afraid she is. She doesn't want to go back to her apartment so she'll be moving in with us. I can't say no. It may take a couple years but this is a certain decline. There will be no house on the lake, no living in Ogunquit. We're going to build an inlaw where the garage is and... that will be that.

She doesn't know how to fight. She never has. She's always relied on the kindness of strangers. I could get mad or upset or anxious. Why?

I can't say no. I just can't.

So school will start... we'll have a broken routine, slowly adjusting to this new person in our home. Very picky person, I might add. Some moments, she'll be a little better. Most, she won't. There will be more hospital stays. More treatments. Blood and puking and crying. I'll do it. I'll learn great things about myself, and some not so great things. I'll learn my limits and have them tested over and over again.

Sometimes, I'll give, sometimes, I won't.

She said to me the other night, as we were talking about my ever so brief move to Rochester, well... now you have a foundation.

I said, it's ours.

She smiled and said, well... you know... really, it's yours.

I thought about the sailboat my friend's dad built her. I have my own, I realize. My mother wanted me to take care of my sister, expected me to. She always said I'd be the one.

And I am.

I realize she's dying. It's not going to be quick. It's not going to be easy. I will have to be very mindful of my kids, my wife. My friends. Stay full with things that feed my soul. We will all have a deeper understanding of who we are. Jeanine reminded me that her father was dying in her sister's house and the two boys, our nephews, really did come out with a better understanding of life. No one should die, but we all do.

It's the last day here. The leaves are starting to turn. It's sunny but cool- that nip of fall has taken over. I'm eager to do more shareholder work with the foundations assets. I have much to write about.

In a few minutes, I'm going back in the house. Sit by the fire with my sister, who is freezing, as her temp is too high, yet again. I'm going to tell her she never has to go back to the apartment. She can stay with us. Always.

But for now, I'm going to watch the waves crash on the shoals in the deep water in front of the house. I hope the Turnstones, small birds that migrate here every year at this time, do a circle again- they are white and brown and fly in a tight flock, turning in the light, they shimmer then fade, then shimmer again. I saw them this morning. I hope to see them one more time.

Everything is good. And awful. I'm holding all the good, the love, and the sadness.

All while waiting for the birds.


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I am so sorry to hear you are going through this. Please be sure to refuel for yourself. You seem to be the rock for everyone in your life and must remember to be gentle with yourself too. I am feeling such sadness in your words. You are an extremely perceptive woman Sara and you already know anything and everything anyone can offer you so i am sending you a long, warm and protective hug. Be well.

I feel deeply for you and your family in this situation. Take a few moment here and there for yourself and keep yourself solid. You will be in our thoughts and in at least my own prayers.

Kirk Lammert | September 1, 2009 1:09 AM

Remember the beauty. Always remember the beauty.

I have no words for this. Your spirit is so generous. The silence will have to do.

My heart goes out to you and yours. Just pick up the phone and I'll provide anything I possibly can.