Grief is a funny thing.
Yeah, that sounds weird, I know.
One of my oldest and dearest friends lost a sister the other day. And it is hitting me, oh it is hitting me so hard. And at the most random of moments, too.
It is S going through this pain. It is the girl who I started to write to as a pen pal when we were twelve, it is the teenager with whom I shared teenage angst, it is the young mother with whom I started trading e-mails instead of letters, it is the woman I know now. Even though we have only met once, we know so much about each other and our families.
S and her sister, me and my sister, roughly the same age differences (with siblings in between). Our sisters were our caretakers and our heroes when we were younger with that eleven year difference. They both left home as soon as they could, but we were always welcome into their new lives. While S and her sister never faltered in their relationship, me and my sister have had some bumps in the road as I figured out life as an adult sister instead of the baby sister. Things have improved over the past year and I just can’t imagine losing her. Of course, I have told her how much I love her this week.
And then there’s how S’s sister passed. Hers is not my story to tell, though I can say that after spending 40+ years with type 1 diabetes, she had experienced most of those scary complications we all hear about when diagnosed with diabetes, when sitting in the endocrinologist’s office, when scouring Doctor Google. That puts a human face on the cold hard truth – that people do die because of the damage diabetes does. While there has been news this year of sudden deaths in the diabetes world, this was not a sudden death.
It is seldom talked about, the impact that T1 can have on the siblings, the impact it can leave on a family after loss. In S’s case, she has two other sisters with it, though things have been smoother for them. I feel for them as they’ve watched what their disease can do, I feel for the entire family. And for the first time, I wish they’d find a cure already because this just sucks. A family has lost a daughter, a sister, an Auntie. Not fair. Not fair at all.
Her name, in Finnish, means “fairytale”. Fairytales are supposed to have happy endings, not this. Oh, she was full of life despite all her obstacles, and she loved her family dearly to the end. But no one should have to go through what she did the last few years of her life.