lillian13: (Default)
I've been in an increasingly bad mood/not sleeping well for the past several days. It took me a while, but I've finally figured it out.

My sister's 59th birthday would have been Sunday. My mother's 88th birthday would have been on the 8th of October. They lived to 58 and 66, respectively.

I've been thinking a lot about Cindy lately. I realized, that like my mother, we never had a chance to really talk as adults. My mother, because she died before I grew up enough to actually talk to her like an adult.

My sister...well, until the last several years, she was never not impaired in some way. Drugs, alcohol, or both. Looking back, I have very few memories of her where she was straight/sober. I can honestly say I never really knew her. She moved out with my father (along with David) when our parents divorced when I was very young, and I didn't really reconnect with her until she moved back to Midland when I was in high school, two crappy marriages under her belt. Don't get me wrong, she was a nice person, but looking back I never got a chance to know Cindy-my-sister as opposed to Cindy-high-on-something.

I had the chance, later. But I was just so tired of dealing with her. For years she never contacted me unless she needed something--usually money, or to ask me to ask our brother for money. Or she would be all kinds of messed up when I'd call, but I ignored it, the way you do when you're so used to something you don't even notice it any more. I could never get past that deep-down exhaustion you get from dealing with an addict. I was always convinced that she would revert, and so I never took the chance to know her better after she sobered up. She made overtures a few times, but I never connected back in the way she wanted. I didn't (and still don't) have it in me to forgive.

Now I wish I had blown off all my commitments and driven out to Midland the weekend before I ultimately did. I might have had a chance to talk to her one last time.  

Damn it.
lillian13: (Default)
 So, my sister has been dead for almost 5 days.

I'm...surprisingly OK. I think I did most of my grieving over the last several weeks, and much of that was because I knew she was in pain and there wasn't anything I could do about it. I did cry some while hanging out in her hospital room on Friday, and I do a little when I actually TALK about it (as opposed to text or blog about it).

I am not a rend-your-garments, weep-and-wail kind of person. My feelings are my own and not generally for public consumption. I handle situations like this with humor and sarcasm and deflection. I dragged everyone (sister-in-law, brother-in-law, old friend who-might-as-well-be-family, and me) out to see Pacific Rim the day after Cindy died. 

Disrespectful? No. I wanted everyone (especially Gregg, Cindy's widower) to have a break. To watch giant robots and monsters go at it. To forget we were in fucking MIDLAND* and my sister was dead and life was going to go on. And she would have fucking loved that movie.

By Sunday, though? I had Shut Down. I was drained and hating being back in my home town. Unable to contact my old BFF to get together. Tired of being in close contact with other people who all had these expectations of me. So, I drove us home (5+ hours), came home and collapsed. 

I texted the sister-in-law to apologize for not being a Chatty Cathy/bitchy on the trip back the way I was on the trip out (see: deflection, above). Her description of me? "Cold Hard Bitch". Not in a mean way, mind you. Just...puzzled.

Look, I understand that I didn't collapse on you and cry and Need You. Sorry. Not me. (I've had people break off friendships with me because I didn't Need Them. WTF?) I know your personal role is Religious Nurturer, but I don't subscribe to that narrative.

I do not have public meltdowns. I Do Things. I research local funeral homes and find us the best one. I'm working on getting Cindy's remains interred at our family cemetery in Alabama. I'm going to be checking up on Gregg to make sure he's OK and reminding him it's alright to do things without her. This is how I handle stress and large emotions. So sorry I don't fit your stereotype.

*sigh* 

* Someday I will articulate my feelings about that town. Suffice it to say, evacuate 30-40 folks, drop a nuke, and I'd be a happy person.
lillian13: (Ansel Adams tree)
At about 10 pm tonight, July 19, 2013, my older sister Cindy passed away after a short but vicious battle with lung cancer. She was 57.

57.

She was about a decade younger than our mother was when also passed away from lung cancer.

I will not make the obvious statements about smoking killing you; you know that already. People quit when they're ready to quit, and not one minute before. I know 83-year-olds who still smoke and are relatively healthy; my family doesn't have those genes. At least not the women.

Still.

She was my big sister. We weren't hugely close--she was 9 years older than me and she went to live with our dad in Houston when our parents divorced while I stayed with our mom in Midland. She had gorgeous red hair and freckles and those lovely color-changing Irish eyes (blue to grey to green). She was delicate and petite where I was big-boned and strongly built, but no one ever doubted that we were sisters. We shared warped senses of humor, loud voices, and absolutely no time for bullshit. 

Cindy was married 3 times, the first 2 times to losers of the first water. Her 3rd husband, Gregg, is one of the most decent, intelligent men I know. I'm going to do everything I can to help him out over the coming weeks and months. They'd been married over 20 years.

She struggled with addiction in many forms all her life, but she was able to complete her GED in her late 20's and then go on to get her degree in Education and teach junior high and high school for over a decade. I will always be proud of her for that. When she got completely clean & sober a couple of years ago, she joined a local church which seems to have "Do Good Deeds" as their motto. She'd been running their food pantry for quite a while now. (I'm the farthest thing you can find from a churchgoer, but these folks are one heck of a support group. Gregg just has to stand back and let the Church Ladies take over. It's awesome.)

Cindy loved mysteries and paranormal romance and science fiction and fantasy. She was a reader, like all of us kids were. Every year at Christmas and her birthday I would struggle to shove one more paperback into the flat-rate box. She loved olives and okra and chocolate and gardening.

She was my sister, and I love her.

Goodbye, Cindy-Lou.

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