Over the last couple of weeks I have received many text, FB and phone messages, as well as e-mails and cards. Thank you all for reaching out and please forgive my reclusive behavior. I have not had the ability to talk. While people with good intentions speak of something better, better places where my sister dances and eats to her hearts desire, I can only think about how Renee would have lived in a pothole if that is where I was. On the day her breathing tube was removed she cried, twice. She did not cry the week prior.
I have been reading about consciousness and how some neuroscientists believe that consciousness is something more than brain, maybe even separate from brain. These are considered dualistic thinkers. If they are right, that mind, consciousness and brain are not necessarily one in the same, then I believe the tears my sister shed on the day she died were from our shared sadness and anguish over our physical separation. If these dualistic thinkers are wrong, perhaps there is still a whisper of ability to register emotion even when there are minimal brain waves. There are people, after-all who have experienced prolonged coma with minimal brain waves who have been able to describe such things. I will never know why my sister cried at the exact moments that she did, if it was simply physical and coincidental.
Each day that I visited with her in the hospital, she appeared subtly different, sometimes luminescent, especially late at night and by the weeks end. I could not, at first, put my finger on what was happening, but then I realized- When my sister’s brain died the week before, the neurological diseases she was living with (Parkinsons, dimentia and possibly early alzhiemers) had died, too. Typically, these are diseases of the elderly, but my sister was only 53 so when the diseases left, the aging that appeared in her face and hands reversed itself and she looked younger again. She gave me a very special week where I got to see her in a light I would have never seen again had she not been full-code and put on life support.
The week before my sister was found septic and non-responsive I had a dream where it was understood that the time had come to say goodbye to Renee. People surrounded me and I screamed in anguish saying that I could not do it. I begged for someone to do it for me, but it was made clear, even void of any words, that I had to do it for myself. I pleaded for someone to show me how. I searched the faces in the mass for those who have been through such a thing. “Please show me how!” I cried. Then I woke.
The crowd is you and although you could not let go for me or show me how to say goodbye to my sister, you have given me a foundation on which I could fall completely apart in the quiet of my little house and still know that I was connected to those who care. The beautiful balloon ceremony flooded my eyes with love. The sweet messages that acknowledge and share my sadness have allowed me to be sad, and the memories- oh those wonderful stories, some I had forgotten, have given me nourishment when I could not eat. They fill me up, still. The memorial fund that Tina set up is such a tender act, and the support that comes from my brother. I am truly grateful. Thank you to Chandra, Lucien, Julius and Matt M for being at my sister’s bedside with me, especially Chandra who continues to cry with me. She, too, heard the night birds, the mocking birds, singing loudly when Renee passed.
Even in my sister’s death Renee continues to teach me. I have learned more in these couple of weeks than I have in the past several years. Our love is almost not of this world, even with all the challenges we had and the pain I feel now, I would never trade our life for something easier or materialistically better. How lucky I am to have been an important part of my sister’s life, to have mattered so much. “You the best,” she would say to me and follow with a hug. I miss her dearly. I miss us from years ago when we could be us.