My older sister, Melanie, was diagnosed with Cancer in May of 2021 and I was worried about her making it through the chemo treatments. 6 rounds of treatments, 1 round every 3 weeks. She rang the bell for her final treatment on September 7th. I cried tears of happiness because I knew then that, someday soon she was going to make it.
Then Melanie was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday, September 28th, because of a lack of energy. She had been in the hospital before with various conditions due to the chemo and always checked out feeling better. I called and asked her if I could stop by and see her on my way to Kansas City but she was too tired for company. I told her to rest and that I would see her on Friday when I passed through St. Louis on my way back home.
I received the call on Thursday, September 30, 2021, from our mother telling me there wasn’t much time left and I had better come now.
It was a 4-hour drive to St. Louis from Kansas City on I-70 East. Lots of time for the mind to wander and pray for some kind of miracle to occur.
The relationship I had with my sister was strained and we had our ups and downs through the years. She even unfriended me on Facebook for about a year or more. On the drive, I kept trying to think of things that I knew about my sister. What was her favorite song? What was her favorite memory of us? What was her favorite book? What did she hate the most? Who did she really vote for in the 2016 election? What was her secret pleasure? What did she dream of? Why was our relationship so difficult?
I realized I didn’t really know her and I drove a bit faster. I wanted more time with her.
Melanie was always there and I figured she always would be. I was the one who would most likely die merging onto the interstate and she was the one who would die quietly in her sleep at the ripe old age of 97. I was the reckless one.
Walking into the ICU room at the hospital was a punch to the heart. She was already on the ventilator and the doctors and nurses were buzzing around her keeping everything going. Our mother, stoically sat on a vinyl couch on the far side of the room, watching the thwapping of the ventilator forcing my sister to breathe. She was doing her best to remain strong for her children. The nurses and doctors told us to talk to Melanie, she was sedated but could still hear us.
I had been in this situation multiple times before. Keeping vigil while a loved one ends one journey to begin another one. I always had something to say before. I had even sung horribly off-key while holding my father’s hand while he was slowly drifting away. This time though…I had nothing but flimsy words of get well. Just get well we have so much we have to do. We have so many places we have to travel to. We have all of that somedays that we have to do.
Someday we’ll go to that fabulous stain glass store in Santa Fe.
Someday we’ll go to Prague.
Someday we’ll go to the Louvre.
Someday we’ll ride horses on the beach.
Someday we’ll drink tea at Harrod’s in London.
Someday we’ll see the Aurora Borealis over Iceland.
Someday we’ll sit and marvel at the Taj Mahal.
Someday we’ll clean out the basement.
Someday we’ll repaint the kitchen.
Someday we’ll get a crimp in our necks from staring at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Someday we’ll stroll along the Champs-Élysées.
Someday we’ll truly be sisters like all the memes display.
Melanie quietly drifted away from us on Friday, October 1, 2021, at 10:27 am. That’s the time I noted when I saw the last peak occur on the EKG monitor. My older sister was gone from this world and the only thing that came to mind was, Someday’s never come.
We all place our hopes and dreams on a Someday, meanwhile pushing it farther down the road and never quite grabbing a hold of it. We need to put a stop to the Someday’s and make them more of a Thisday.
Since my sister’s passing, I have had the time to reflect on our relationship and came to realize that I did know my sister. I may not have known what her favorite song was, but I knew that she loved dweeb music. The Carpenters, Air Supply, Bread, and had a crush on David Cassidy.
I knew in high school, that she cheered in her sleep and would sometimes knock over the alarm clock because of swinging arms.
I knew that she would fall so deeply in love with a boy, that it made her heartache when she was away from them.
I knew where she kept her diary and that she never wrote anything of interest in it because she knew that I knew where it was.
I knew each time she had a hickey on her neck and tried to hide it from Mom and Dad. Ironically, she married a man with the surname of Hickey.
I knew that she could say the thing that would make me cry, but she also knew when I was hurting and would be there with a band-aid to fix-it.
I knew the exact buttons to push to make her cry and which ones made her laugh.
I knew which dress to make my mother buy for her because it would eventually be handed down to me.
I knew not to eat the Pineapple Upside Down Cake because she made it with salt instead of sugar.
I knew the morning my son was born that she would get me to the hospital on time. She drove 100 mph and drove through 5 red lights to get me there.
I knew when she first held my children in her arms that she would be there for them whenever they needed her.
I knew she loved everything British except the weather.
I know she’s smiling down from heaven and whispering in my ear, “Make it Thisday.”
I may not have had the words to say goodbye to her while she lay dying, because that was a button I never wanted to push, but I have come to realize that I did know my sister. A sister is not made of favorite songs, books, best memories, dreams, politics, or all the little facts that are often misconstrued throughout a relationship. A sister is a presence always hovering around you. They may not be physically with you, but they’re always there in your head and in your heart. The relationship may be strained at times but ultimately they are a part of you. Their presence in your life has helped make you who you are today and because of that, there is a sticky bond that holds siblings together like glue but it can also stretch miles and then rebound you back to your roots.
Someday’s never come, so make it Thisday.