Katrina with Her Sister Carrie and their Mom

I’m feeling a sense of desperation tonight.

There’s not enough time. I’ve wasted it. I’ve squandered it. I’ve let too much of it pass by.

A dear friend of mine says, “The time we have is the time we have.” I know what she means by it. We get what we get. We cannot make more of it, cannot buy it, cannot bargain our way into it.

But my sister is sick. She’s been in the ICU for fourteen days, unexpectedly and heartbreakingly. I am ten hours away, and her arms, Mom says, are bruised from the needle sticks.

There were so many years that I took her for granted. She was my Other Mother, my caregiver, my guardian. I was the whirling dervish who didn’t have time to slow down and be present with her. I was the jerky little sister who popped the heads off her Barbie dolls and created a masking tape division in our shared bedroom.

“This is your side, this is mine. Don’t cross the line.”

The doorway exit, too, was divided in half. We shimmied out sideways, Carrie and I, so as not to impinge upon each other’s domain.

Even as an adult — especially as an adult, because I should have known better — I continued to draw lines. She was six years older, had her kids sooner, blazed the trail before I did. But in my self-proclaimed wisdom, I had all the answers to life, to everything.

Here’s what I’ve finally learned. Right, wrong, this way, that way — none of it matters. What matters is Carrie. What matters is Mom. My family, our families. What matters is that we journeyed together, The Three Amigos. We made our way hand in hand, side by side.

And now, Chris, Sam, Gus, Mary Claire, George.

What matters…

What matters…

I look at my kids fighting now and I think… you’re gonna miss this. This forced intimacy of the six of us living together in tight quarters, you will miss it. Drop the “I hate yous” and the “Leave me alones” and the “Get out of my rooms” because someday you’ll wish you could say, “Come back to my room. Climb into bed with me and tell me about your day.”

It’s the natural progression of life. I understand it cerebrally. We all fight for our path, we all stake our claim on life. Eventually, most of us come to understand — at least those of us with families worth fighting for… and I most definitely have a family worth fighting for — what really matters.

Family. Love. Forgiveness. Friendship. Vulnerability. Wholeheartedness.

Yes, we hurt each other. Yes, we slice with our words and cut with our actions. Some wounds never heal; some, perhaps, never should. But this family of mine, this trio of female strength and tenacity. This. This. This is worth the battle.

My sister, with her bruised arms and her scarred belly and her kind and faithful husband by her side is 500 miles away. But she is in my heart, there, for all eternity.

There is not enough time to make up for what I’ve allowed to pass through my pointing, accusatory fingers. But there is enough love.

Wrapping you in all of it tonight, dear Carrie Ellen.

Come home soon.

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16 Responses

  1. Holding you and your family in my heart. (((Hugs))). Life is short and unpredictable at it’s best. You have been fortunately enough to experience a loving family and all the memories that creates. That is forever.
    I pray she is home soon. Rest tonight knowing your words hold power and she will know.<3

  2. Such wisdom. Prayers for your sister tonight, that she may be home again soon, safe, in the loving arms of her family. Your words are so true, so very, very true…painful and beautiful all at once. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Lovely post, Katrina. It’s difficult to reconcile the ups and downs of family life but it draws us back in because its the only place we can be our best and worst selves and still be accepted. Your words expressed something very special for me.

  4. This is so beautiful, Katrina. Sending your family love and strength. May Carrie be well soon.

  5. Dang. I have a lump in my throat now. Think i’m gonna have to call my insufferable little brother, who is now 49 with a ‘condition’. Thank you for this…

  6. Beautiful and heartbreaking. I lost my younger sister nearly eight years ago. Not a day goes by when I don’t miss her. Peace anwd strength.

  7. Prayers for your sister, Katrina. Siblings are the only other people on the planet that know our whole story.

  8. So raw, honest, sweet. What I know is that we choose our lessons, learn them in our own time, and cannot teach our lessons to others. Our children get to have the same experience, despite our efforts to change that course.
    Thank you for sharing. You are blessed.

  9. Thank you for this, Katrina. So often we draw those “do not cross over” lines (even as adults) and don’t realize what a dangerous thing that can be. Thank you for the reminder. My thoughts are with you and your sister.

  10. I lost my grandma yesterday and it left me realizing how much I should have reached out to her. Well, not only her but everyone in my family. Your post reminded me of that. The need to call our family members, whether they’d be siblings, moms, dads, aunts, uncles , grandpas, or ..grandmas.. and it’s important that we do. In the end, we’ll regret the chances we didn’t take. The chances we had to call them. I’m glad your sister is doing well 🙂 That makes me smile.

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