Sara Whitman

Dear Cathy

Filed By Sara Whitman | December 27, 2010 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: death of a sibling, grieving process, letter to sister, sister's death

Dear Cathy,

Angel of GriefI've spent the last few days in complete shock that you are gone. What is up with that? I knew you were sick, but this dying thing was a little too extreme. And after all the years that I sat and listened to your fears of some horrible thing that would happen to you- an elevator crash, plane crash, airbag explosion, SARS, Swine flu, anthrax... let's face it, pretty much everything in the world you thought would kill you.

Now you are dead. I guess I was wrong. Not about the elevators, though. C'mon. That was nuts.

I want to call you. I want to talk to you about all the shit that's been thrown in my face since you died. How you said I was horrible to you. Really? I know better and so did you. Why? Why did you say those things? So our brother would take you in? He would have taken you in no matter what. Sure, he hates me. But you didn't have to go there to be accepted.

I get telling your lawyer I was holding out- any time you could wrangle a few extra bucks out of your trust, you did. Whatever it took. But I would have helped you craft the letters. Always did before.

I was there, Cathy. This summer? You said to me you wanted me to treat you like I would want to be treated. I said then, that's the problem! I like to be left alone. I like my alone time, privacy and rarely want anyone to do anything for me. You were the opposite. We worked that out- you could have yelled at me again. We would have worked it out again, as we did so many times over the years.

I found some of your writing today. You wrote, "For all the dreaming that my family were dead and all was mine, I missed them. I really missed them. But I never felt that way about my sister. She was always there for me. We had our fights and disagreements. But we were always there to help, to hold, whatever was needed."

Yeah, Cathy. We were that to each other. I knew all the men, the pain, the user friends. Why at the end did you shut me out? Did you think I would be mad?

I wasn't. I could never stay mad at you. I could never say no.

I did what I could. Offered to buy you the house behind us only to have you say you didn't like how it smelled. Offered to hire help only to have you say you didn't like strangers. Whatever I offered, wasn't what you wanted. You wanted to be cared for 24/7. And I have three kids, and yes, you knew the kids would always always come first. Always.

All the people who called you here, offered to take you out to dinner, to come visit and you always said no. My friends cared about you. They wanted to spend time with you.

You made people laugh. It was a gift. But you wouldn't take it in- why? Why did you choose isolation? Sure, the house behind us was old and overpriced but you would have been steps away.

I know. You wanted care all the time. Even if you lived with me? I had a job, the kids went to school, there were hours of driving each day, school events, practices, appointments... my life is busy. I've worked hard to create a community. I love busy.

It wasn't black or white. It was all a murky gray. I know I didn't do what you needed me to. I tried. I know you eyed something that was better for you and headed to it.

I supported you, Cathy. I knew. I knew it was for the best. I also knew it wouldn't be perfect, and you started complaining after being there a week. I told you to chill out. They were adjusting. Even though we had our moments? As you wrote, we were always there to help, to hold. We always talked to each other. All the time.

Remember how pissed that made Mom? Ha! She took a lot from us but couldn't take that away.

Remember when you called me last year, scared, sick, in Savannah? I came down on the first plane, Cathy. I kept coming down until I convinced you to come back with me. We sat there for ten days and grieved your beautiful home, what you wanted for so long.

I went to every doctor's appointment until you didn't want me to anymore. I know. I was always freakishly optimistic. I couldn't stand the thought of losing you. All those trips to the emergency room and how we laughed... oh my. You'd tell me you were fine and I knew you weren't. I'd have to drag you down there.

We'd make lists of things you wanted to do before you died. We'd talk about how you wanted to find true love. We'd talk about the jerk moaning in the room next door and could we get some drugs to shut him the fuck up?

I'm sorry I didn't hold you enough. I'm sorry you felt you needed to push me away to go to the next place. I knew Boston wasn't your home. It's mine. And just as we were so different- hello? pork rinds? really? ew. Okay, I'll eat half a bag but ew. No, I will not buy Riunite and add a sugar cube to it- I believe that will land me in hell. I'm sorry I could not find stevia in the raw. Are you kidding me? a sponge for the counters and a sponge for dishes? You lived with cat piss all over your house for years and you're worried about sponges?

Ah... my seester. You really are a big shit. And yes, I am a little shit.

I miss you.

I love you.

I want to call you. Why are you gone? Please come back. I gotta tell you about Ben and his bronzer, Jake asking to shave and Zachary's, aka Sully, fit about having his picture taken. How Calvin, the kitten I got for you as you said you needed to hold a kitten one more time, was licking the shrimp I left unattended for thirty seconds.

I want to tell you how Zachary holds the cow pillow every night to his chest and Jake has been over to see the motorcycle. Hello? a motorcycle for a ten year old? Good thing you're dead or I'd kill you. Ben? Well, he keeps hugging me a lot.

Just came in and gave me another.

I miss you. I sat in that hospital with you and watched you breathe, waiting for you to sit up and tell a joke. To make a silly face or use one of your goofy voices. Come back. We aren't done, yet. Nowhere close.

I love you. I know it was the last thing we said to each other. As we always did. I love you my seester. I love you, too my seester. Talk to you tomorrow.

It's tomorrow, Cathy. You're not here.

Oh my seester. My most wonderful seester. (You say, you are my favorite seester. I say, I am your ONLY seester. You say, aren't you lucky!)

I miss you.

(Photo via eklektik2xs's Flickr photostream)


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Wonderful tribute Sara.

Darlene and I send you and your family our love and our prayers. Your sister could not have had a better family member then you.

Very touching. I lost my parents at an early age and wonder what life would have been like if they had lived into their retirement years. I still have my sister, and I dread the day I lose her! We have become better friends now than we were in childhood. My heart goes out to you!

If there were a magic wand to wave we would wave it for you. Your writing has always been great, and here it is beautiful. I will pray for your family.