The bonds between siblings remain throughout the years. Whether we speak often, or have long periods of time when life keeps us busy, I know my siblings are there for me – always! My siblings multiply my joys and share my burdens so they become lighter. We grew up in rural Newfoundland in a little house on a hill that looked out over the bay. As I travel back in time, I am filled with nostalgia for those happy days playing in the fields that surrounded the house or in the woods behind the “back forty”. I was one of nine children – number seven of the bunch. I am so grateful to be part of this family. The eldest took such good care of the younger members. I always felt secure knowing they stood between me and anything that threatened harm. Growing up in a large family can have its challenges, but the blessings far outweighed these. My heart is overflowing with gratitude for each and every one of my sisters and brothers. They have taught me, guided me, stood by me, and always, always loved me. And I thank God for the blessings of growing up with such caring and compassionate people. Life can wound us, but if we are fortunate enough to have a sibling that truly loves us and supports us we will find healing. So, this is my thank you to each of my brothers and sisters who enrich my life, lift me up, and support me. I am so very glad we have each other.
Funny how a song can take you back to your youth. My best friend through my teens died many years ago. She was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes when we were fourteen years old. She died when we were thirty-eight. She was fierce. She was funny and she was a wonderful friend. She managed her diabetes better than most. It took her a fair amount of time to come to terms with it though. I remember her sneaking French fries from my plate. I remember her begging for a bite of my chocolate bar and other goodies that she was not supposed to have. Her mother was very strict about what she ate. Understandably. But when you’re a teenager the idea of dying seems impossible, so I would indulge her, even while I scolded. Perhaps if I had known more I would not have eaten such junk in her company. But I was equally in denial. It would take many years before I became aware of the toll the disease would take on her body. By then it was too late.
I was her maid of honour at her wedding. The marriage lasted less than three years. They never had children. I remember her visits – she eventually moved to British Columbia, while I went in the opposite direction, back to Newfoundland where I’d been born. She visited us there once and we took her around to see the sights. I guess the Long Range Mountains were not nearly as spectacular as the Rockies, and I was disappointed she was not as enthralled with them as I was. Yet we did spend many pleasant days on beaches and on forest trails. I would not see her again. A year or so later her mother called to tell me of her passing. I wish she would not have told me of the circumstances – she had died alone in her small apartment and it would be a few days later before a neighbour found her body. I think that is the worst memory and the despair I felt (and often still feel) knowing she was alone.
Still, I treasure all the memories and the friendship we shared that helped us through the minefield of adolescence and the rigors of our young adulthood. Her brother told me about spreading her ashes on the waves of the Pacific. One day soon I hope to make the trip to view the splendid redwoods and listen to the waves lapping the shores of British Columbia and say a final good-bye to this friend of my youth.