Writing has made me a better person. I don’t do well sitting and relaxing and having too much time to think. I’m not sure what that says about me or my disposition, but I get antsy and grumpy with too much free time. Cooking relaxes me, makes me happy. So does writing. Both, for me, are creative outlets. Maybe that’s why I have trouble writing the same types of books back to back or cooking the same things over and over again. I get bored.
I’m used to cooking and writing with lots of distractions. Actually, when the phone’s ringing off the hook or people are underfoot, both activities keep me from snapping at anyone. Or at least, I snap less. This week has been particularly chaotic. My younger sister died on Sunday morning. She’s been on oxygen 24/7 for a long time with diabetes she didn’t control very well. She lost more and more energy and strength until lately, she got winded just talking on the phone. She went into the hospital Saturday night, had tests, was teasing nurses at 8:30 a.m. when they came to take her vitals, saw her heart doctor, and half an hour later, fell asleep and didn’t wake up. The doctor said when her pulse tanked and her alarm beeped, he was only twenty steps away from her, raced into her room, and she sighed and smiled, and that was that. I’m happy for her. When it’s my time to go, I hope I get that lucky.
Neither of my two sisters married, though, and they bought houses next to each other. My youngest sister–twelve years younger than I am–is whom I feel sorry for. She’s going to REALLY miss Patty. She told me she feels so alone now. We only live ten minutes apart, but I’m not the same. And I understand that. My two sisters were a team. Now the team’s down to one player.
I know from watching friends, losing someone really close to you can shut you down and nothing brings comfort until you can work through your grief and come out on the other side. That’s where my sister is now. So I’ve told her to call me as many times in a day as she wants to. I’ve told her when she needs help with anything, I’m here. And she’s called a lot. And that’s good. Because when I hang up the phone or return home, I write or work on something that’s writing related. And I center myself. She’s lost. For now, I have my husband, my writing, and my cooking, and I’m okay.
I sound a bit like a fraud, like I should be mourning more, too, but things were only going to get worse for Patty. And I’m glad she was spared that. My dad died from multiple myeloma, and it took years. When he died, his spine and skull looked like they’d been riddled with moths, full of holes. If I could have, I’d have spared him that. My mom died of Alzheimer’s, and that took ten years. It was worse. Dad was still dad until he let out his last breath. Mom lost being mom along her journey. But just because quality of life goes away, health can make people linger. Patty didn’t have to. When her quality of life could have taken a real nosedive, she got to leave. That’s what I focus on.
I have friends who are atheists, agnostics, Jewish, you name it…and I respect their beliefs…but I firmly believe in life after death. So I picture Patty in heaven with Mom and Dad and all of her pets, and I picture her flying. She always wanted wings. I doubt that they’re pure white, but I bet they’re fun. Patty’s free, so it’s my youngest sister who needs me now. Grief takes a long time, usually at least a year, but I’m determined to be there for her. At least, as much as she’ll let me. My family’s a stubborn lot.
And when things get to me, I’ll write. Or cook. I hope you find your happy spot. And happy writing.