Eight weeks ago, I received a call that knocked the breath from my body. My baby sister, the one I named and carried out of the hospital when she was born, was dead. At the age of 52. Suddenly. Without any warning.
Paige, among others, had saved my life eight years ago, when I faced two other major losses. She and I connected as sisters and friends despite our eighteen year age difference and previous two-thousand mile physical distance. During those eight years, we were together weekly, talking, enjoying similar interests in home decorating projects, thrifting, books, movies, and spiritual and life philosophies.
When her father moved back east two-and-a-half years ago, we partnered in his caregiving, survived his major, four-month-long health crisis, looked out for his general well-being, and also endured his difficult, selfish personality, until her death dissolved our partnership.
At first, I had to remind myself every day, when I woke up, that Paige was dead. I would lie in bed and remember the phone call, the words, the drive over to Paige’s, and the last time I looked at her sweet face and kissed her cheek before she was taken away to the mortuary. Now, I feel overwhelming sadness, and sudden tears spring at the most unexpected times, and for unexpected reasons.
I’ve been so devastated for myself and for Rob, her life-long partner. My chest hurts at times with the pain of her being gone, of never getting to tell her I love her again, never laughing with her again, and of never getting to hug her tightly again.
I’ve lost my friend and my sounding board. I’ve lost her encouragement and support. I’ve lost the laughter we shared and her companionship, my pet care and airport delivery and pick-up, a lunch and thrifting buddy, a social justice ally, and a partner in her dad’s care. I’ve lost all the little traditions and rituals we had when we were together and as we parted.
I adored Paige with the deepest sisterly love. She was an incredible sibling, friend, and person who had an enormous impact on my life. I’m so very grateful we had the last eight years of shared experiences and people, conversations, pep talks, laughter, and yes, even frustrations and disagreements with each other.
Considering the love I have for Paige and our relationship, no other response except grief is appropriate. I am willing to feel the full impact of my grief as a final act of tribute and love for my baby sister, Paige.
After this, I’d like to get back to writing about the simple, joyful, funny, scary, poignant observations and events I encounter. Maybe I can share some memories, and maybe I can just start to breathe again.