Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Janet

My sister Janet is eight years older than me. I have some memories of her as a kid, but mostly there was a big enough age difference that we didn’t steal each other’s clothes or boyfriends so there wasn’t a lot of conflict.

She is the middle child, but for years we also called her the Perfect Child. As adults, I found out that she always hated that so I stopped saying it. I also call her Dad’s favorite daughter and I haven’t stopped saying that. I joke around about it, but it doesn’t seriously bother me because she is truly one of the kindest women I’ve ever known in my life.

I was just talking with a client yesterday who has a family member with cancer news. I remembered when we starting testing Tim and suspected it might be cancer. Janet lived near Rochester so she was an hour-and-twenty-minute drive away. I was on the phone with her when she said, “No matter what happens Darcy, you won’t be alone. We will be there every step of the way.” And she was.

Twice during Tim’s five months of illness, she took an unpaid leave of absence to come and help. I never forgot that because there were other relatives/friends that lived closer and were more close to Tim than she was, but she was the one that didn’t bat an eye. She just took the financial hit and came.

One memory that particularly stands out was when the decision was made for Tim to go to Hospice to try to get his sleep regulated. I called her to tell her and she made all that distance and got here before the transport car came. She and I took Tim around the property in a wheelchair to give him a chance to look at everything, reminisce, and ultimately say goodbye.

She has been here again, this time for Dad. She arrived the day before New Year’s Eve from Tennessee. And she is still here. She leaves Saturday which means she was here a full three weeks. Dad required 24 hour supervision until this week so she literally spent the whole time with him in his assisted living apartment.  I can’t even begin to express what a massive relief that was to me.  I know Dad is going to miss her terribly, as will I.

I enjoy her company immensely, but I was in a catch-22. She was here to take care of Dad, which was my chance to get a break. I wanted to visit with her, but I needed some distance from the situation at the same time. Thank goodness she completely understood that.

Even though she lives in Tennessee now, she still had a job where she had to take an unpaid leave of absence to be here. To take a three-week cut in pay when you live paycheck to paycheck is an incredible sacrifice. She makes it without blinking an eye, without a question. If I asked her to stay even longer she would.

Her husband supports her being here, even though I’m sure he misses her. Her daughter supports her being here, even though Janet misses her little grandson so much I’m sure her heart aches. So thank you to all of her family who let us borrow her capable hands and her ever-giving heart.

And how do I thank Janet? I couldn’t possibly. But deep down, I know she knows. She loves me too, and came to support to me. Mostly though, she did it for the deep love she has for our dad. He’s not an expressive man, but I know he appreciates her as much as I do.

IMG_20180109_101722452_HDRThank you dear Janet. You truly are perfect!


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“Lovely”

You’ve heard me say about a million times that I have an exceptionally supportive family and friend network. Today I want to focus on just one of my sisters. When Summer got very close to my family while Tim was sick, she gave my sister Janet a nickname- Lovely. And it has stuck.

Janet is eight years older than me. When I say I’m the baby in the family, I mean I’m really the baby. Janet is my closet sibling. My brother is ten years older, and my other sister is 18 years older. In many ways, I grew up like an only child because of the age difference.

If you have ever attended one of my lectures, my family almost always comes up. When I speak of Janet, I say she is one of the nicest people I have ever met. Nice may be a generic word, but it is truly fitting for her. She just doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. As we’ve gotten older, she will often tell me she isn’t nice anymore. She has gotten older and less pleasant. But Janet’s less pleasant, is still much nicer than most people are on their best day.

I learned that life wasn’t fair many times in my life. Probably the single most unfair episode our family ever experienced, was when Janet lost her oldest daughter. She was only ten years old and was killed in a car accident. She was the sweetest thing ever. She was feminine and loved wearing curls and frilly dresses. She loved to show affection. I have read many, many times about the loss of a child and the strain it puts on a family, especially a marriage. Statistics are very high for couples divorcing after such a loss. Not my sister. She and her husband are high school sweethearts. She isn’t just nice, she is a very, very strong woman.

When my mom was sick, the hospice staff told us that I was the voice in the family and Janet was the hands. I will never understand how she didn’t pass her nursing boards because Janet is an absolute natural. She would change Mom’s bandages and bathe her with such kindness and gentleness. One time she wasn’t available and I had to get Mom ready for the day. We both laughed hard because I was an utter failure. I had her nightgown twisted around her IV’s so badly we had to ask for help. Mom and I both knew that no one could replace Janet. Not even close.

Janet and her hubby are getting ready to make a huge, massive life-changing move. They are going to Tennessee to be with their beautiful grandson.

Lisa, Carson Patrick

Lisa, Carson Patrick

Can you blame her? I certainly can’t. We all knew someday they would go south to be with their daughter, but someday came sooner than anyone expected, including them. They know better than anyone that life is short and fleeting. Why miss out of that sweet boy’s most precious years?

I know it was a hard decision for her. After all, she is thoughtful. I know she worries about me. And she worries about Dad. She doesn’t have the capacity to be selfish. I’ve done my best to reassure her we will all be fine. What I love is that I know if I asked her to stay, she would. I mean, she actually truly would. That blows my mind. It’s not like she is retiring and moving to Florida. She and her husband will still have to work full-time and they will help care for their grandson too. But she would give up where her heart aches to be if she thought it was what was best for everyone else.

I can’t imagine the void I will feel in less than two weeks. I know that we didn’t see each other as much as we would like over the last decade. The hour and 20 minute drive got the best of both of us much too often. We will do our best to stay close, but we both know things won’t be the same.

So Lovely, my deepest best wishes for the new chapter in your life. You will be missed more than you can possibly know. You have been an outstanding example for me my entire life. Your kindness, thoughtfulness, integrity, gentleness and much, much more are something I will never stop aspiring to achieve. I love you! You truly embody your nickname.