I only have to miss her. No, my heart doesn't compete with feelings of inadequacy or the "if I coulda-woulda-shouldas" that plague many people after a loved one has been snatched like a thief in the night. Me and my sister Deanna? We were good. I only have to miss her.
But missing her is no small thing. Like, everything beautiful and funny and of good report, I want to tell her. Not just the pivotal days and moments. The smallest, most inconsequential things are where I ache for her the most. I want to text her and ask if she saw Michelle Obama's hair with the new weave tracks or binge watch an entire season of Orange is the New Black while talking shit with her. (Crazy Eyes would have been her favorite for sure.) I want to get on my hands and knees and paint posters for youth football games with her and listen to her reaction when we found out that Idris Elba smokes cigarettes. Was Beyonce's last album #teamtoomuch or would Deanna have been in formation? Was the Breaking Bad series sublime or way too dark and creepy instead? I want to know her input on my next idea for a Jack and Jill fundraiser or get her reaction to something I've written to publish. She's the person I want to show my teaching awards to first and the one I want to text a funny selfie after a really, really sweet elder talked my head off in the hospital. It's that stuff. It's the most ordinary things that are the hardest, you know?
But the blessing is that I only have to miss her. I never saw her suffer nor do I have some apology left dangling in a word bubble out of reach forever. There were no stinging misunderstandings or lumps under the covers of our relationship. We were close. So close that many times I just close my eyes and have all of those aforementioned exchanges with her. In my own heart and head, I do. I hear her saying that "Smoking don't got nothing do do with how fine Idris is" or "Michelle Obama is one bad bee-eye-tee-cee-aytch." or "Lemonade is like Eve's Bayou or the Blair Witch Project put to music. Scary, creepy, confusing and probably the result of some mood altering substance."
Yeah. Today marks the 4th year since I lost my big sister. And I will say it, tell it, and share it until the day I die: My sister was like the sun. A force, a light and capable of igniting any space she entered. And especially . . . . I want people to know that she was fucking awesome, man. So fucking awesome. And when you have a fucking awesome ball of fire in your world one day and not the next, it can be hard sometimes. It can.
But it's okay. Because we were good. Solid as a rock, man.
Yeah. So today sucks. Mostly because it punctuates what happened. Not because I feel lost or conflicted or disconnected from her essence. Because me? I only have to miss her. And I don't need November 15 to remind me of that. I do that I do every single moment of every single day.
Honestly? I write this blog to share the human aspects of medicine + teaching + work/life balance with others and myself -- and to honor the public hospital and her patients--but never at the expense of patient privacy or dignity.
Thanks for stopping by! :)
"One writes out of one thing only--one's own experience. Everything depends of how relentlessly one forces from this experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give."
~ James Baldwin (1924 - 1987)
"Do it for the story." ~ Antoinette Nguyen, MD, MPH
Details, names, time frames, etc. are always changed to protect anonymity. This may or may not be an amalgamation of true,quasi-true, or completely fictional events. But the lessons? They are always real and never, ever fictional. Got that?