A few months ago I wrote a post addressing the fears you may encounter and the fears you already have. Today I want to acknowledge the courage you demonstrated that eased our fears.
Sister, for years you have been hero, my guide, my best friend. You taught me respect and the meaning of love. Respect by way of correcting my wrongs, whether they had been hurting momma, friends, or myself. Love by confessing once that you didn’t know why people love who they do, just that they can’t help it.Today you’ve taught me courage. Today you’ve taught me that life is so much greater than ourselves, our pride, and our fears. I guess you’ve been teaching me that all along.
I’d been filled with anger for quite some time. Maybe I was born with it, maybe it’s a Gunn thing (Dad would blame the Scots.) But, that craving for someone to say the wrong thing, to hurt me or someone I love was starting to wear on me. I’d become suspicious even paranoid of any new face or friend. I wanted something to react to. I wanted something to hurt. Throughout high school and college I wore my heart on my sleeve as bait, hoping someone would take it and wreck it, just so I could wear the badge. But, that never happened. Instead I was the one hurting friends and myself.
I remember one Christmas you calling and raising hell because I had given mom attitude about helping with the dinner. Mom always called you in for re-enforcement when the threat of calling Gram or Dad didn’t work. You were her calvary, her Green Berets. You told me that I’d better knock it off, whatever little crap I was going through, and help mom because you were stuck in Cincinnati and would give anything to be baking cookies with your mom. Today I’d give anything to be holding your hand and hugging you both.
You’ve always put things into perspective for me, showed the bigger picture, revealed how small my current crisis was. You never gave in to gossip or cheap talk, said you didn’t have time for it. I remember calling you one night after a friend said something stupid about my dad, a dumb joke. I had tried to talk to mom, but she didn’t quite understand, so I ran upstairs to my bed and called you at college. I was crying and told you I felt humiliated. You laughed and explained how small that person was to be concerned with anything other than their own. You reminded me how great my dad was and how lucky we all were. I passed that person the next day and I swear they could hear my armor clinking.
Today, when I think back on how frustrated I was growing up in our small town, never really having an outlet, except for the giant plywood board under my bed I used for tap dancing, I feel so ashamed of the self pity. I guess all teenagers are guilty of it. Feeling like you have the WORST parents, you have the MOST zits, you get to do the LEAST amount of stuff, etc., but I don’t remember you really complaining when we were growing up. Sure, you still had the normal teenage angst, but for all that you really had to put up with, you never made a single wave. You’d just accept things for what they were and move on. I guess some would say you held too much in. I’m sure some shrink could find a way of making some “ism” out of it, but to be quite honest, you’re just too tough for that. You were a tough kid and today you’re one tough woman.
When we found out about your cancer, that anger I had learned to burry peaked out of its cave. It’s like that three-headed dog from Harry Potter, slobbering and stinking. Thankfully, with the help of Fil and some plain old growing up, I’ve learned to ignore the barks. But, when mom called to tell me the news, there wasn’t a song loud enough to drown out that dog. I got so irritated and mad. Didn’t want to talk about anything, got mad when mom would call crying, got mad when Fil would see my eyes watering. Just mad, damn it. Then I started to write this blog and at first I thought it would be for you. I was going to help you through treatments, long days, and nights. Instead this blog was really about me. You all know I can talk an ear off, but ask me what I’m really, really feeling inside and you might as well go talk to a brick wall. I get all flushed and embarrassed. Feelings…oy. Here I’m able to talk to you. Ask you how you’re feeling. Tell you how I’m feeling. Tell you really how much I love you and what you mean to me. Maybe it’s not right, maybe I should be able to say it more, but when I’m talking my words kinda stumble over themselves like people trying to escape a smelly elevator. Writing is my outlet and I am so thankful for you allowing me to write this.
Your courage has pulled us all through this hell. Not once have you complained. Not once have you stopped. The rest of us could have cried from day one on if you’d let us. “Poor Abby, poor me, poor us.” That would have done no good. Instead you continued to roll on. You were there for your daughter and husband, your mother and father, and you were there for me. Through every treatment and every test, you were there for all of us. Thank you, sister.
One of my favorite books is East of Eden by John Steinbeck. I read it a few summers ago after my Aunt Patty told me I should. She was right. It’s an amazing book. My favorite quote from it was,”I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.” Steinbeck is talking about you there. He most certainly was talking about you!
Congratulations, sister.You did it!
I love you,