Exactly one year ago today, my family was gathered at the care facility where my sister, Sherill, had just died. I have been calling each member of the family in the last couple of days to ask what changes they’ve noticed since Sherill has been gone, or what they miss the most about her.
The general consensus has been that what we miss most are her abilities with regard to communication. Here is the breakdown:
- Dad says that Sherill used to call him fairly regularly and say, “Let’s meet for a Coke.” Besides that, Dad says that he is still being treated on a follow-up basis for his multiple myeloma, a disease he and Sherill shared for the last year of her life. He’s doing fine for the most part.
- Mom says that Sherill used to call her first thing in the morning every morning after my stepfather died. She says she still talks out loud to Cal, Sherill, and God when she’s home alone. She keeps the TV on all day just so she can hear voices in her house.
- I have missed two things about Sherill — being able to call her whenever I had something I wanted to talk about with someone, and her ability to explain my son to me. There’s scarcely a day that goes by without me wishing she was here so that I could talk with her about just about anything.
- My younger sister, Lauryn is not very good at keeping in touch with the family because she leads such a busy life. Sherill used to call her and tell her all the family news because she was in touch with us all. Sherill actually did that for all of us and it kept us knit together. The family has unraveled some since Sherill’s been gone.
- My son, Jamey, misses Sherill’s ability to be an intermediary between him and me. He and I are such different people. Being mother and son, we should be able to understand each other, but it doesn’t seem to come to us naturally. Sherill was like a second mother to him; she was loving, accepting, and encouraging, qualities I wish I could emulate better. To his credit, Jamey calls me faithfully every second Sunday of the month. We had a good conversation yesterday.
I remember when Sherill died, we all wondered if the family could survive without her. It was touch-and-go that first week as we were planning her memorial service. We sure could have used Sherill then to help us communicate better with each other. I remember thinking that first week that if any other member of the family had died, it wouldn’t have left such a huge hole in the family as losing Sherill did, and that still seems to hold true.
When does life return to normal? When does the grief lessen? I’ve heard it gets easier. I’m still waiting for that to happen.