True North

by Jackie
(St. Petersburg, FL)

May 28, 2008, my sister Liddy passed away in Hospice in another city far from mine. No one told me. I didn't find out until I arrived in town the following morning on a planned visit. My sister and I were very close. As Forrest would say, we were like "peas and carrots." Actually, we were like vanilla and chocolate and called each other that from time to time: Liddy was vanilla, and I was chocolate. We even occasionally signed cards and e-mails that way. She was older than me by 16 months. We were tight. My sister was the person I always went to when I needed someone to share with, whether it be sadness, fear, or joy. You see, I am a single woman without a family of my own. So my sister was the world to me.

Five months later, on election day, November 3, 2008, I came home from work and found my father on the kitchen floor. He was dead. I panicked and performed CPR on him for about twenty minutes until the paramedics came and told me he was dead. He was already in rigor. His heart was broken.

My father lived with me for the past 6 years. He was a kind and gentle man, and we were really good friends. I depended on him for moral support, too. Even though I was providing support for him, he gave me much support back. I felt safe with him. My sense of safety with him goes a long way back. Our childhood was rocky and abusive with a mother who is not emotionally and mentally well, and still is not. She continues to live.

I have a picture of my sister and father. I took the picture in a restaurant booth. It was the last time I ever saw my sister. It was one and half weeks before she died and five months before he died. They are sitting next to each other, heads together touching, smiling serenely. I framed the picture and have it hanging on my living room wall, right over the top of a compass. They were my True North for so long. They were the people that kept my bearings straight. They were the ones who kept me on target and on my path when I strayed into the darkness of the woods.

I hope I can locate True North again without them.

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