To the reader: It has been 9 months since I last shared pages from my journal. Grief, though always with me, visits with all of it’s wrath in September. Usually I begin to feel it around the beginning of September, during my birthday. My sister forgot to call me on my birthday the year she died. She called me a few days later and I let the call go to voicemail, never thinking it would be the last call I would receive from her. I never called her back…
Below is a previously written excerpt from my journal:
Christina loved singing so there are many songs, including Amazing Grace from the burial, which are difficult to hear. Sometimes the songs will be on the radio, sometimes in a commercial, sometimes in my head and sometimes…the music is hard to escape.
After 9/11, my dad was deployed to New Jersey. My mom and Christina were not getting along so Christina came to spend time in New York with me. I remember during one of our rides to visit my dad on his military base we called my mom to say we love her. In Christina fashion, we planned to sing my mom a song when she answered. We practiced the song on the drive – Christina was the main vocal, I was background.
🎵“You’re just too good to be true. Can’t take my eyes off of you. You’d be like heaven to touch. I wanna hold you so much…” 🎵
Of course, my mom loved it and we were so proud to make her happy. My sister and I had been performing songs, choreographing dances, and fashion shows for my parents since we were toddlers because, well, it is what sisters do. At the time, I was 19 and my sister was 16. I knew we could always perform for my parents and they would always love it -even if we weren’t as good as we thought.
That. That thought right there, “I knew we could always perform for my parents…” That hits like a ton of bricks, like being stabbed in the gut – we couldn’t always perform because Christina wouldn’t always be there… That is one of those little things death steals away from you, without you even knowing how important it was, until it’s gone.
So many little things.
For the years after Christina passed, even today, I can still sense her presence in my passenger seat while I’m driving and singing out loud. I sometimes place my hand on the passenger side of the vehicle- I guess, in hopes I could physically feel her sitting there? Then I glance over to the seat, hoping to see her one more time, but of course, no one is there – so I keep driving, and I glance again and again.
Then I cry. Sometimes I pull over.
I wonder how many people worry as they drive pass me, possibly thinking I am having a bad day at work, a break-up, an argument with my husband – when it is so much more…15 years of so much.
My sister used to call me on my birthday and would usually sing me a song. This tradition started prior to cell phones being used regularly, so when I initially moved away for college she would call my dorm phone. I remember my junior year, my roommate answered our dorm phone and teared up because she thought it was the sweetest gesture and so special to have a sister (she had all brothers, so she definitely appreciated the gesture more than I did). It thought it was special, but at the time, it was just my sister and it was what my sister did on my birthday- she sang. My birthday song was the Casper the Ghost song “Remember me this way”. I didn’t really listen to the words of the song until after Christina died. After she died, the words took meaning.
🎵 Every now and then we find a special friend, who never lets us down. Who understands it all, reaches out each time you fall- You’re the best friend that I’ve found. I know you can’t stay but a part of you will never ever go away- your heart will stay…. If you lose your way- think back on yesterday. Remember me this way. And I’ll be right behind your shoulder watching you. I’ll be standing by your side and all you do…. And I won’t ever leave as long as you believe. You just believe. 🎵
And I do believe. I believe God gave Christina this song to give to me. I believe I will see my sister again. I believe we live in a fallen world where death, disease, evil and horrible things happen. I believe God sent his Son to save us from this world.
I DON’T believe God makes these things happen or it was God’s will. Why would evil be part of God’s will? Why do people feel this is what they should say at funerals? I believe God is all knowing, and yes, I believe God knew what this world had in store for Christina’s life, and I believe the devil thought he won when he tried to claim Christina’s life BUT I believe it was God’s will to save Christina’s soul.
Jesus claimed victory because she is a child of God… and only because of that victory, do I still sing along, sometimes through tears, with the music of September.
Where, O death is your victory? Where O death is your sting? The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57