Eight days ago, I received the hardest phone call of my life. It was my brother-in-law calling me at 7 a.m. I had just fixed Joe his breakfast and was getting the jar of peanut butter out of the pantry to make his lunch. It was the day before I was to turn 52 and my mind was sleepily wondering if the Birthday Fairy was going to bring me the two cookbooks I had asked for when I opened my presents the next day.
And then my cell phone rang.
What Kelly told me during that phone call made my knees buckle and I slid down to the floor of our hallway, wanting to make time stop and then go backwards so I wouldn't have to hear him tell me that my sister had just passed away. The sun was just beginning to come up and it was still dark in our little hallway. Joe heard me gasping for breath and abandoned his breakfast to come sit next to me on the floor, patting my knee, his way of showing how much he loves me. When I finally hung up, and the realization that I was never to hear my sister laugh again or ever see her smile again sunk in, when my heart broke in a million pieces, I began to shake. Joe threw his arm around my shoulder and pulled me into a big hug, letting me cry and snot and shake all over him.
He held me for forever it seemed.
These last eight days seem like a lifetime. I spent every minute I could with my parents, my brother calling from England that first day and both of us crying over the phone. The burial was outside the town where we grew up in Kansas. There was snow on the ground and the temperatures were brutal with a windchill of -15. The memorial service was filled with photos, flowers and people, so many people, people I hadn't seen since my childhood. There was laughter and tears and a new strange normalcy in the air.
I'm home now and I spend my days filling them up with busy work, putterings around the house and errands. Anything to not let me remember. I catch myself thinking, "Oh, Julia would love this new picture of Dad. I need to send it to her."
And then I remember.
Or, "I can't wait to tell Julia about the new cookie recipe I found."
And then I remember.
Or, "I can't wait to hear what Julia thinks about my new food photo!"
And then the breath gets knocked out of me all over again.
Eight days ago my big sister died.