Dear Death

Mar 06, 2011

In the very late hours of night, in October 2009, I sat at my computer and wrote the following on my
blog:

Dear Death-

I hate you. I never want to see your ugly face again. You and your best friend, Grief, can both
just go to hell. I am sick of you in my life.

Go away,

-Andrea

And then I turned off the commenting on the post. I had to give my feelings room to breathe, but I
didn’t want to be misunderstood.

At the time of the post, it had been two months since I had talked to my sister for the last time. Our
conversation happened on a Saturday night and I was on a date with my husband when she called. Since
date nights were few and far between, I tried to keep the conversation with my sister brief. We talked
about her pregnancy. She was 38-weeks along and feeling the pains of the late stages of pregnancy. She
felt tired, sick to her stomach, and uncomfortable. I asked her if she was bleeding, vomiting, or swollen.
When she said no, I told her that she sounded like every pregnant woman at 38-weeks—ready to pop! I
told her to get some rest and call me the next day, hopefully with news of a baby.

My phone rang at 5:28 AM the next morning. My sister’s name—Sheri—showed up on my caller ID. I
was right; the baby had come and I was excited to hear all about the delivery. When I picked up the
phone, I was surprised to hear my brother-in-law’s voice rather than Sheri’s. He told me the baby had
been born. She was healthy, but came via emergency c-section. Something had happened to my sister.
He was still unsure what, exactly. I heard the words “high blood pressure” and “stroke” and “CPR.” He
told me to notify all of my family members. I hung up the phone and immediately started making phone
calls. Once I had reached every sibling (5 of them) and my parents (who were serving an LDS mission in
Peru), I crumbled into a heaping mess on the floor.

Over the next 24-hours, we learned that my sister had developed eclampsia, a life-threatening
complication of pregnancy. Without much warning, her “normal” symptoms of late pregnancy
developed into severely high blood pressure and seizures. Upon arriving at the hospital, my sister had a
stroke and an emergency c-section occurred, saving my niece’s precious life. Despite hours of CPR, all
the blood from the city’s blood bank, and dedicated care from almost every doctor in the hospital, my
sister passed away. At the age of 33, she left behind a husband (they had celebrated their 10-year
anniversary just two weeks prior), a 3-year-old daughter, and a newborn baby girl. She also left behind
her loving parents and six siblings.

The first few days after my sister died were so blurry. I stayed at the hospital—in the very room meant

for her to recover. I cared for the baby—the precious, wanted, hoped-for baby, meant to be held by my
sister. I listened to a three-year-old ask for her mommy. I tried to relay messages to my parents who
were frantically trying to return from Peru, and to comfort my siblings who were miles away. I helped
my brother-in-law plan a local memorial and we made arrangements for Sheri to be transported back to
where she was raised, where most of us still lived. I spoke at her funeral and watched as they lowered
her body into the ground. At the end of the week, extended family returned home. By the end of the
month, friends and acquaintances were back to their normal lives. The sympathy cards and phone calls
started to dry up. But for me and my family, our grief and pain were only beginning.

This is where Molly’s blog comes in. I had heard from a friend about Lucy’s story when it originally
happened. I had even read Molly’s blog before. But when my sister died, my heart and soul changed. I
longed to find others that had experienced something similar. I wanted to know if my regret (Why did I
rush our last conversation? Why didn't I tell her to call her doctor?), sadness, anger, fear, frustration,
numbness, and pain were normal. I went back and found Molly’s blog and read it again. Each time I
read, I hoped she would write something that could give my sorrow some credit. It was hard to be
around people who just didn’t get me anymore. When A Good Grief was created, I searched for writers
who had lost a sister, for another story of young children who ached for their mother, for a woman
missing her daughter, while helping to raise her grandchildren. Although I didn’t find stories exactly
replicating my (or our family’s) experience, I found essays about people going through our same daily
battles. The specifics were different, but the process of moving forward was similar. I wasn’t the only
one out there riding the roller coaster of grief.

One of my favorite posts by Molly was written fairly recently. She said something to the effect of “hating
people” who hadn’t lost a child. She was vulnerable and real. She let other people in, at the expense of
possibly being misunderstood. I loved the post because it was honest and raw—and I have felt similarly.
I have blogged about my pain, only to fear others just won’t get it. Along the road, some have, and some
haven’t. Molly knows what grief and loss are all about. That’s why I follow her blog: she gets it.

It has been 18 months since my sister passed away. With the support of others—including those in the
blogosphere—I have come a long way in my grieving process. There are still hard days. There are
moments where, out of the blue, I crumble back into that heaping mess. There have been times where I
reach to dial her number. I long to share with her the journey of motherhood, of work and family
balance, of literature, music, and inside jokes—just like we did before. When I miss her most, I re-
read her old blog and post on the new blog we created for her girls. I share my memories of my
sister with her daughters so that they will know they were, and always will be, loved

 


 



Comments

Liz on 03/06/2011
I'm so sorry. :(

Stephanie Waite on 03/07/2011
As a women who is having a baby in 18 days, and a grieving mother like Molly, this all just hit close to home for me. Sending you and all your family a prayer and some love.

Rebecca Jeppson on 03/07/2011
As a women having a baby in 20 days ;) And having a very close relationship with my own sister, my heart breaks for you and your sweet neices. Thanks for sharing your story.

Shara H on 03/07/2011
Crying. Crying.Crying. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you, Molly for helping people share in the raw emotion of grief. Thank you for the reminder to send a note or shout out even after the swelling of loss has changed. I'm so sorry for your loss, inspired by your strength & love that you are there for your nieces. What a blessing.

Tiffany on 03/07/2011
Oh, wow.

Patti on 03/07/2011
I lost my sister. My only sibling. She was 41 and she died of breast cancer. I understand. I so sad for you. I really understand.

Glenda on 03/07/2011
I lost my sister in 20 years to open heart surgery my Grandson 3 years ago and know my other sister is dying of cancer so I know how you are feeling.Sometimes I get so mad.

Cheryl on 03/07/2011
Had a baby 10 months ago 7 weeks early due to HELLP syndrome due to pre-eclampsia I was on the verge of a stroke. This could have been my outcome...hit very close to home, I am crying just reading it! I am so very sorry for your loss, for her babies and her husband. May God's love give you peace beyond understanding!

Suzanne on 03/07/2011
Andrea, thanks for sharing. I woke up early the other day and just stayed under the covers and cried for about an hour because losing Sheri was so unfair. Even now it hurts. Love you, sis.

Yvonne on 03/08/2011
Andrea, thank you for sharing your story. Sheri and I went to school together and has connected again a couple of years ago. Her death was and still is a shock. Some of my greatest memories growing up are with Sheri. I miss her laugh! I think your family and Eric are amazing. I am in awe at the love and care that you all give to those two cute little angels. May you be blessed in your lives. Thank you Molly and all those who have lost before for sharing your feelings with us.

Bridget on 03/08/2011
I am so sorry and sharing my tears with you this afternoon.

angie lee on 03/09/2011
I have never lost a sister but i have buried two daughters. A 5 week old and a 17 month old. I am so sorry for your loss.

Heather Allen on 03/17/2011
Andrea, Thank you for sharing. I'm so sad to hear of your sister's passing as I was almost in her exact position 5 years ago. I was 25 weeks pregnant and went into eclampsia with grand mal seizures, and emergency c-section...the only difference between our situations...I lived and our son didn't. I don't know what it is like to lose a sister, I can't even imagine it, but losing a child because your body fails your child is a tough one to cope with. I'm sure your sister is grateful that you were able to hold her sweet girl when she wasn't able. God be with you.

Heather on 03/24/2011
I have several friends who have suffered similar losses. I am so sorry for your pain and though I don't understand how you feel, I pray for you and others suffering loss each day. I am so sorry and I know that through yours and others openness and sharing, so many like me have changed into more compassionate, caring and grateful individuals. God bless you and thank you for sharing.

Pat Bahr on 05/28/2011
I lost my sister and her husband in a car accident when she was only 19, and I lost my brother to a drowning when he was only 4. I witnessed the drowning as a 5 year old. I know of grief and how you feel. Thanks for sharing your story. May we all see our loved ones again!

Holly Brode on 04/10/2012
I just recently lost my baby sister in a car accident. She was 19 years old. It is has been a painful journey thus far but it helps to find others that can understand that pain. I too started a blog for my sister. Thank you for sharing http://thisischelseakiessling.blogspot.com/


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