An empty bed with a single red rose on the pillow where your adorable world weary golden head had lain only a few hours before.
Margaret, your name means ‘pearl’. “”Meditate on ‘I am a pearl’” I said and you said “Boy, you’re good”. I held your body while you braced for a thousand jabs when your veins had collapsed from too much chemo. I held your head when tears ran down your face because John wasn’t comfortable with hospitals. Your triathalon muscles continued to fight the fight when your inner organs began to shut down. After an entire lifetime of shared intimacies and friends and homes and triumphs and frustrations and competitions and learning to dance and be free, and you, my younger sister by twenty months, how can I not feel that you are central to my life?
We waited for hours on the deck of the Alaskan cruise ship, you huddled in a blanket in your wheelchair and I pacing and blowing on my hands to keep warm. We waited for your whales to leap and show themselves. You looked beyond to the hills and said “I should be out there climbing those ridges, not stuck here. Who am I?”
And then the moment came. After two years of “I will not say ‘good-bye’ to my boys! I won’t! They’re too young! I want to know them. I want to see them grow. I want to know them as men. I want them to know me. I will not say good-bye!” You turned to me on the last day of our cruise. Your dream: to see Alaska and the whales before you went. You patted the floor next to where you were sitting and I sat down next to you. “I’m not going to eat any more.” You said. Those huge dark, round eyes looking into mine. ‘Good-bye, Francie”.