For most of you, today is just May 22, 2008. For me, for my family, for those who love her, it's nine years. The first few years after she died I approached this day with dread, and I couldn't help but count back the hours as if they were happening again (right about now I was getting the first call…right about now I was on a plane…right about now I prayed over her body in the hospital). Every time I saw a LifeFlight helicopter in the air, every time I had to re-pack my "Lora boxes" for another move and rifle through the sympathy cards and newspapers and other paper memories, every time I heard the words "car crash" and "fatality" in the same sentence on the news, I would cry.
Time has healed a lot of that raw pain and for the most part I have moved past the tragic-ness of it. The crash, the coma, the fact that it was such an abrupt end to a life full – full – of love and joy and youth and hopes and promise. I have finally accepted my life without her. And I cling to the things I can do, hold, remember - to still feel connected to her. My daughters carry her names, her pictures are peppered around the house, I still wear her hat on bad hair days, and I carry this Bible she gave me for graduation just two weeks before she died.
Isn't that something? It was her last gift to me. A Bible that she had pored over to highlight favorite verses, organized by category. Can you tell she wanted to be a teacher?
You see that last category – "Hope; comfort; courage and strength"?
I read it at her memorial in Ohio, the day after her death. It was one of her favorites. It was her way of life, and her hope for her future after death. And its my peace and comfort now that she's gone. For years this page was bookmarked with a Kleenex tissue from the service.
I cling to memories, often reliving them as I think to the years ahead with my girls. One of my favorite "things" besides the Bible is this envelope from the card she gave me that same day.
They're some of her favorite memories as a kid, scribbled out for me to laugh at. This one is hilarious. Sometime during the elementary school years, we got to pick out the carpet for our rooms. Lora picked green. Kelly green. Why? Because she had a Cabbage Patch Kids comforter and she thought it would make a nice "grassy lawn" for them. I loved to chide her about that one.
I told you I used to make up "assignments" for her. I loved playing "Teacher." She mostly hated it, but endured it nevertheless. Actually, it was during one such assignment that she discovered a hidden talent for poetry. In fact, as a teen she wrote a beautiful poem for the family of a dying father who could not speak. Someday I'll share it with you.
Do you get the feeling I was a bit, er, bossy growing up? We loved to pretend the sidewalks were actual roads and I had an assortment of rules for the road, none of which she cared to follow.
Anyway, it all makes me laugh and cry at the same time. There's something about losing a sibling – the person who was there all your life, who could remember and commiserate or commemorate all those moments. She was my other half for eighteen years. I won't ever be over it. But I've learned to live with it.
And while I'm pausing to talk about her life and her death, I should note here that this was a big day for several families. Today nine years ago four ailing people and their families got the news that their long wait was over. They would receive an organ. Her heart, her kidney, her liver – all went to help save lives. It was a tough decision that my mom was forced to make on her own while waiting for me and my father to get to the hospital. And it was a decision we are proud of and encourage others to make as well. Lora was, above everything else, a giver. She would be ecstatic to know that such painful circumstances bore life and happiness for someone else.
I miss you, Sis. Deeply, terribly, painfully miss you.
Other Links: Organ Donor Information, Lora Love Grief, Lora's Website
Crystal: My twin-sister’s husband died after 6 mos from a brain tumor and then she took sick and died the following year from a rare, rare, disease. I took care of the two of them for 2 years plus running home to take care of my husband. It was difficult but with the Lords help I made it. Yes, it was hard and it is years later that I sometimes call her name and want to talk to her. She was part of me as a twin but to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. And I know that she is with the Lord. But I still MISS her.
I was looking up apron patterns and came across yours. I didn’t know I was going to get something much more then a pattern. As I type this I am crying and can hardly see to type. I am reminded again that God doesn”t give us more than we can bare. That everyone goes through things in there life they just don’t think they can possibly go through. I believe God puts in our life contacts that can encourage and give us hope that there is a day that we have joy again. Thank you for your blogs and web site. I will check in on it often. May God bless you and your beautiful family.
Thank you for this post for us to read. I woke up extra early this morning, aching as I think about my mom, another state away, grieving the loss of my Dad, whom she was married to for 54 years. This was a lovely tribute to your young sister, beautifully written and so articulate. There’s one phrase that gave me tremendous hope this morning. Speaking of healing the “raw pain”, gave me such encouragement. As I know the pain will never be gone, but to know of the “rawness” of it fading…thanks for mentioning that…I’m so sorry for the pain you and your family has faced with the loss of your sister…I’m praying for you this morning and giving thanks to God that your sister knew and loved Him.
God bless her!!!
I am just finding your blog, but I have lived in your shoes. My own sweet sister was killed in a car accident September 9, 2002. I have felt your emotions. I have lived your pain. There are good days and there are bad ones.
Your post is a sweet tribute to your sister. God bless.
Stacy A says
Crystal, I just spent the last hour reading through your experiences, when I meant to be making your Nana apron. You have faced so much and have faced it with courage and understanding. Nine years ago May 5th, after being told he wouldn’t last through the night, my little brother (then 18) was given a new heart. The details are similar, a girl was in a car accident and her family made that split second decision that allowed my brother to live. Not a moment goes by that we aren’t thankful for that decision of her family to do some good out of a tragic situation.
Your words on grief are very wise and heartfelt. We shouldn’t fight it, in ourselves or in others. It is what it is and experiencing it is the only way to heal and grow. Whether it takes a month or a lifetime. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and love and for the service to our country you and your family have given. I can see your words and strength help many people.
this touches my heart so deeply. Isn’t it amazing to think that Lora sees our Savior face to face…holds his sweet hand? My daughter does, too. I like to think that she sees the sunrise from the other side. I miss her, too.
They’ll greet us one day. One sweet day. It’s a promise. I know that you know that.
Much love to you, sister.
What a beautiful post. I found out this that I lost my grandfather to cancer this morning, and I am a mess reading this, but it is a beautiful tribute to a beautiful young woman.
Thinking of you all today.
miss chris says
And thank you for sharing. So very much.
Crystal – I sit here with tears streaming down my face. Though we’ve never met, I feel like thru your posts of Lora, I know you both and can see what a special relationship you had for 18 years and continue to have, in a different way. May your memories bring you comfort, joy, smiles and laughter as you move thru daily life. May E & A grow up with the same special bond. Thinking of you, Lora and your family on this day.
Brianna Dupuy says
Oh Crystal, how you have touched my heart. I feel deeply for your loss. It is times like these that I know and believe that God puts us through trials to draw us closer to him… your expression of memorial in your beautifully written post screams with the love that only God can make. I will keep you in my prayers. Thank you for reminding me to count my blessings. The songs are beautiful… I send you warm thoughts, prayers, and peace. God Bless you.
Been thinking about you and your mom all day today, and remembering Lora and her light for Christ. Prayers–Regina
Gift of Green says
Thinking of you today.
Miss Sassy says
Beautifully written. Painful to read. I remember May 22 as a wedding date that was canceled. It doesn’t compare at all as it was one of the best things that happened to me as I met the best husband ever. Wish I could say something useful.
This is so wonderfully written. I love that she highlighted all those scriptures before she gave it to you. What a wonderful gift to always treasure from her!
I would never dream of trying to say something to “make you feel better” , I just want you to know I am thinking of you as travel through this day.
this makes me so sad for you. and ashamed as well. I have sisters who I am estranged from. you’d give your eye teeth to be with your sister or even just to hear her one more time. i have that ability and don’t take it. I’m sorry for taking something as simple as having sisters for granted.
on another note: any life altering event really never goes away. I think we grieve life long. Until we are given that salvation and we can be free of the sorrow of what could have been.
although I didn’t lose anyone to death I have had my share of life altering events.
also I find it interesting that when i read someone’s story of an event in their lives i bring myself back to that time and try to remember what was i doing then?
when they say things could be so much worse for someone else. it’s true.
just we don’t know it until we read about it years later.
thank you for sharing your story!
Lora has a beautiful name!