About 72 hours ago my best friend, my long time idol, my big sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. And for 72 hours I’ve been angry, I’ve been crying, and I’ve been beating myself over the head for moving ten hours away.
It’ll be a month this Friday since my parents and I packed a UHAUL full of family hand-me-downs. From our sofa to bath towels, Fil’s family and mine made sure that our first home would be just that- a home. Our apartment is just right. Perfect if I do say so myself. We often look at each other and think we don’t deserve it or wonder how we got so lucky. We’ve narrowed it down to this: our families, friends, a dose of hard work, and lots of faith.
Since Wednesday, though, I’ll admit, that faith has been tested. When I first heard the news my first thought was, “Why my sister?” Immediately I scolded myself. We shouldn’t think that way. Or so we’ve been taught not to. Everything happens for a reason. This too shall pass. He never gives you something you can’t handle. They all went through my mind. Those verbal teddy bears your mom hands you in a crisis. But this time they just don’t seem to be working. The teddies aren’t enough to keep the nightmare away.
Aside from the anxiety, I’ve felt a great deal of guilt. Guilty for moving away to Portland, Maine simply because we like it here. Guilty for not being home with my sister when she needs me the most. Guilty for not being able to make my niece laugh, not being there to hug my mom, and help my grandparents. Now, my family knows I do not deal well with guilt. The tiniest inkling of it and I’ll spill my guts. From my first crush to my first joint, my parents have heard it all. But this guilt is different. It keeps me awake. It keeps the wheels in my mind spinning and spinning, the way a car does in mud. Not getting anywhere, but still going. The other night I was so overwhelmed that I nearly packed a bag and left. Left the cat, left Fil, left Portland. Just to be home to give my sister a hug. I know I can’t do that though. I wouldn’t do that. Because in the end I know my big sister wouldn’t want me to.
So what can I do for my sister ten hours away? My tears aren’t getting anywhere except for being washed down the shower drain, which honestly has become a safety hazard. It’s dangerous to shave your legs with tears in your eyes. My guilt isn’t getting me closer to her. Just gives me bags under my eyes. My anger doesn’t help at all, only gives the cupboards and doors a hard time. So, I asked again, what can I do while I live ten hours away? Ten hours away in a brand new place? A place full of life, people, art, and nature? Hell, I went to school for it. The least I could do is, well, do it. I’ll write. I will write for my sister and maybe after awhile it won’t just be for my sister. Maybe it will be for my friends, my neighbors, maybe even strangers. Maybe this will be for anyone who is having a hard day and needs a distraction. So, that’s what I’ll call this-My Sister’s Distraction. I’ve been that for most of her life, but hopefully this time it does some good.
I’m going to write about my adventures in Portland, Maine. I’m going to write about the kids I teach and the tourists I sell cheese to on Saturdays. I’ll write about the farmer’s market, the ocean, the art galleries, the bums…I’ll write about it all. That’s what I can do. That’s what I can do for my sister. I’ll give her a distraction. A productive, insightful (okay, maybe not all the time) distraction.
All I can ask is that you only leave friendly comments. All others will be ignored and deleted. Share this with whomever you like, correct my grammar, and, if you can, give your sister a hug.