That Inevitable Question

When you lose someone you love, there are certain situations you just don't want to deal with. There are the obvious ones like anniversaries of the day it happened, birthdays, holidays, etc. It is harder to face those moments without them, but at least you have some preparation. It's the moments you're not prepared for, that happen when you least expect it, that stop you dead in your tracks, that hurt the most.

Today, I had one of those moments. I was at an appointment and the lady was making an innocent attempt at making small talk. "What are you doing this weekend?" "What are you studying in school?" "How's the weather?" But then, then she asked the question. The inevitable question that was bound to get asked at some point, especially when making small talk. "Do you have any siblings?"

It has been a year and 2 months since Anna passed away. It is certainly not the first time I've been asked that. But for some reason, I can't recall it happening before. Perhaps I knew it was coming and had time to prepare. Perhaps it has never happened. I don't really know.

What I do know is that today that question caught me off guard. I paused for a moment and felt awkward for pausing before answering. It's normally a simple question that requires an automatic answer. I've been answering it my whole life with "Yes, I have a sister who's 3 years younger than me." But it's no longer that simple. It takes a decision; do I tell this well-meaning complete stranger who I met 5 minutes ago that my one and only sister fought a long and hard battle with cancer and unfortunately didn't survive? Do I simply say I had a sister and leave at that?

I didn't say either one of those things. What I did say? "No." And I immediately felt guilty. I have a sister. And not only do I have a sister, I have a pretty amazing one. She's the strongest, most beautiful inside and out, amazing person I know. I am proud to call myself her sister. So why did I answer no? Why would I deny that I have an amazing sister?

I told myself that it was easier. That I didn't want to explain my life story to a complete, well-meaning stranger. But why not? I have so much to tell. Especially because my sad story about losing my one and only sister has a happy twist. She left an amazing legacy. She touched an unmeasurable amount of people. And she has an amazing foundation started in her memory that is doing great things and touching more peoples lives in her memory. Why couldn't I tell her that?

The answer is, I don't know. Lots of reasons, I suppose. Because I hate that look of pity you get after you tell someone. Because when I have to answer that question unexpectedly, I can't dive into my immediate "speech" I have developed to tell the story without having to feel the emotions associated with it.  Because it is awkward telling a complete stranger the most personal, raw thing about you.

But none of that matters as much as carrying on her legacy. As much as honoring her memory. She will always, always be a part of my life. She is never far from my mind and always in my heart.  It is something I am going to have to deal with the rest of my life, and it may never get easier to tell someone that my sister is in heaven now and not with us on Earth, but I owe it to her and her memory to do it.

Miss you, beautiful angel. I will love you always.... 

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Laural Out Loud said...

I think whatever answer you want to give at that moment is more than fine. And anyone who asks a question should be able to hear the answer, no matter what it is.

Katie Miller said...

This is such a wonderful answer. Not everyone needs to know our deepest pain or everything about us. No may mean, no she isn't here on this earth any longer, but you don't have to explain that to each person.

I have been in a similar situation and have also answered with a "white lie", but it protected me. I believe those type of "lies" are okay as long as they are best for your emotional health.

I'm so glad I found this blog. You are one strong lady.

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