Letting Go

I feel the need to pay tribute to my sister whose ashes were scattered in a lovely cove amid daisies and flower petals on Saturday. We’ve all lost someone who was important to us. My beautiful younger sister, Deborah Ereth, was that person in my life.

All siblings fight, and yet I cannot remember a time when she and I exchanged harsh words or mean looks or even tattled on each other. The worst transgression I recall was when she was six or seven and she hid a dozen chocolate bars under her mattress, thinking to eat them whenever she felt like it. I was supposed to be selling them for a school project and was frantic when I couldn’t find them. Our parents were not amused.

My little sister—six years younger—was a daredevil, unafraid of consequences, always ready to face trouble head on, even when she created it. She once picked up a lighted cigarette and tried to smoke it. Our father said, “Fine…you want to smoke…here’s a cigar.” It didn’t daunt her in the least.

She was also first in line whenever I needed help. For weeks she gave me her allowance when I was trying to save money for a pair of boots. She’d join me in impromptu singing and dance routines while doing dishes. She kept my secrets, like the time I drove onto a ferry and, to my mortification, didn’t have any money. She and her cousin went car to car begging coins to pay the fare. They got them, too. They were both about twelve.

Deb grew up to be a beautiful, caring, compassion woman whose dinners could feed an entire neighborhood and whose cookies were fought over by family members and neighbors. I envied her ability to cook, but I was in awe of her ability to stand up in front of a crowd and give an articulate, impromptu speech. She spoke and wrote well and planned to write children’s books, had she lived.

As cancer treatment took over her life, she was still an optimist. She’d scan faces of patients in the waiting room at the oncology center, seeing who was nervous or afraid, reassuring them, making new friends. Her smile gave them hope and her calm optimism gave them peace.

When she passed, I felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness. I have a husband and children who are there for me. I am blessed to have many friends I can count on. But my sister—my only sibling—was my rock, the one I always went to for sound advice, a good laugh, or a needed scolding.

Letting the sea breeze carry her ashes brought closure to her children. She’s where our parents were scattered, a place she chose as a final resting place. I have wonderful memories to cherish. It’s time to let her go. And yet, I cannot seem to do it.

I miss her and aI will continue to miss her for the rest of my life.


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