Today is the 5th anniversary of my big sister Heather’s homegoing. When we were kids, she irritated the tar out of me on a regular basis, taught me about beauty products (note: NEVER use Vaseline for a hot-oil treatment for your hair), was bossy, sang with me loudly in public places (to upset our sister Allison), knew EVERYthing (or so she thought), made me laugh, hurt my feelings, and once wrote a spoof-musical with me in the wee hours of the morning.
When we were grown up, we went for long stretches with hardly any communication, brainstormed gift ideas and event-planned for family celebrations, had sometimes-awkward get-togethers (because aren’t we ALL a little awkward, really?), spent hours in deep conversation, and once got so silly in a fancy steakhouse that we couldn’t stop laughing and our husbands were embarrassed to be seated with us.
When she got sick with pancreatic cancer, we suddenly talked every week even though we lived 1,000 miles apart. We sat and held hands in doctor’s waiting rooms even though when we were little she would shriek if I dared to touch her in public. We made tacky, inappropriate jokes during chemo treatments because it’s better to laugh than cry sometimes. And we reminded each other that God is God, He is good, and He loves us.
Now that she is gone, I realized that she helped me learn some stuff:
* People are often annoying, but they are important.
* Relationships are hard work, but they are of immeasurable value.
* You don’t always like the people you still choose to love, and that’s okay.
* People can be wrong and it not really matter that much.
* Sometimes an inappropriate joke is actually a statement of faith and hope.
* Family is messy and complicated, but it should not be taken for granted.
* Love — no matter exactly what shape it takes at a given time — is always worth it.
* God is God, He is good, and He loves us.
(See you, Heath….and thanks for the opal ring. I smile every time I wear it.)