On Thursday, February 25, in the early afternoon hours, several thousand miles way, my beloved sister Fran passed on to another life. Her years of suffering through one affliction, and then another, suddenly lifted from her shoulders, as a yoke might be lifted from the shoulders of a burdened soul.
Quietly and without much notice, she was gone. Little time for all the family to gather and say all the things they might have wanted to say in those last moments. Yet, in this case, we had not wasted those moments when the important things could, or should, have been said. Those special words from the heart, spoken to the dearest and nearest of kin and soul, "I love you" were said often and repeated back, signs of heartfelt caring and love between family. In this case, between a brother and sister, who shared many magical moments in life, some from a continent apart, for over six decades.
Strange but little things come to mind, such as the first time I ate pizza. Fran brought it home one evening and the family sat and stared at the new food and slowly ate it. We all laughed at the shape and the strange taste, but it was a new adventure and Fran was like that, always an adventurer.
One of the last times we spoke, only several weeks ago, we laughed about her going to Bingo with our mother in Maine. Bingo was held in the hall above the fire station, and they played for sugar and bacon instead of money. It was a big night when someone came home with a grocery bag full of food items! Quite a memory for a couple of kids to hold on to all these years.
I watched my "big sister" grow up into a beautiful young woman who loved to ride horses, and would chide her about the "horse" smell of her Levis when she came home after a weekend of riding. Fran was more at home in a shirt and Levis than a dress, but when she got dressed up she was absolutely gorgeous. I remember her wedding to Rich, and how beautiful she was in her wedding gown. Somehow, at that moment, it appeared that she outgrew the jeans and shirts, although in truth, I think that jeans remained her favorite method of dress most of her life.
On March 2nd, the funeral service was beautiful, and God listened to our prayers that day for no more rain. The morning was rainy and windy with thunderstorms, but it cleared up and the sun shone for the services, and although it remained windy, and later cloudy, Fran was laid to rest near the river, close to the water she always loved, with friends and family there to say good bye.
Things will never be the same. I won't have the phone calls to look forward to, to chat, exchange jokes, or family stories, or simply just enjoy hearing her voice again. I won't be able to tell her how much I love her. But, there is one bright spot. She always knew how much I loved her, and I know how much she loved me. Because we never held back on telling each other every chance we got. Each and every conversation ended with "I Love You" and more, from the heart.
So, if you love someone, tell them. Don't let the opportunity pass by to say "I Love You" while you can. There may not be another chance today, tomorrow or ever. Time is a precious commodity and there is so little of it to share with those you love. The sadness of the passing of a loved one will become more bearable as the days pass, and along with it more joy in the knowledge that you knew you loved, and were loved in return, And said it well and often.