To Those Who Have Lost a Sibling
I thought of you yesterday. If this holiday, National Siblings Day, went unnoticed by you then I am envious. I was not aware of it myself until the innocent and seemingly harmless Facebook scroll with my morning coffee, a chance to gain peace before I attacked the task of getting four children ready for church. The word “sibling” always makes me think of two things: my four children and my older brother. The one sibling I had, my brother Adam, has been gone for nearly 26 years. His own life cut short at 19 by the brain tumors that infiltrated his mind. The question of if I have siblings always brings out the familiar furrow on my forehead, and I never fail to ponder how to answer. What to say, I wonder silently. “I do” or “I did” or “yes” or “no”? It is still a struggle after pondering my answer hundreds of times in the past 9,000-plus days.
I have no one to call on National Sibling Day. Perhaps you are bound together with your siblings left behind or perhaps, you are like me, the default only child. My closest genetic link in the world gone, though I am not sure our genes had much to do with the bond we shared. I think our relationship began the day a sister was brought home from the hospital and a big brother claimed her for his own. I can almost feel his arms as I gaze at the picture of his scrubbed-clean self holding me on his pajama-clad lap. There is another of him sleeping beneath my crib. The role of guardian taken very seriously by the 4-year-old boy as his newborn sister slept blissfully, unaware her soulmate’s days would be far less than her own.
Do you, like me, ponder how to not let the grief overtake you? Does your joy come for long bouts and then suddenly the grief rises to the surface? It sets in like an endless steady rain and you are left wet and shivering in the cold. Shelter seems far away, and sometimes it’s better to be soaked with the grief and pain; ignoring it does not work well in my experience. It tends to hide, placated for a brief time, and then emerges stronger and more volatile the next. I have played this game for many years now and often struggle to control the tears born out of my own pride and even embarrassment. If I begin I may not stop and then things get even tougher. Questions from friends, spouse, children, parents, all too much and adding to the suffocation you use to extinguish the feelings. Don’t though. Just don’t. Find a quiet place and a quiet time and weep — cry for the sibling who left this earth and whose memory calls you back again and again. The joy will return, I promise.
The Mighty wants to read more stories about siblings, whether it’s your favorite memory or a tough moment that taught you something. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.