To all of you who know someone who is fighting this dreadful disease, know someone who has passed on, or may even be fighting this battle yourself... I hope you find some comfort here at this site, whether it be an article, a link, or even a picture. My heart is with you, for I have lost my dear sister Janel who was only 42 at her passing October 26th, 2009. This young woman never drank alcohol or smoked a day in her life. She was a third degree brown belt in karate and only lived for three days following her diagnosis. I encourage everyone to support research and funding for this silent killer.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Missing My Sister

On the one year anniversary of losing my sister, I came across this lovely poem that just about says it all...

One morning I found you in eternal sleep;
I tried to wake you as I began to weep,
But all my pleas you could not hear;
Oh if I could have only kept you near,
Away from the voices of those who went before,
Who beckoned you to come to that distant shore.

I find it so very hard to believe
That you have gone and I must grieve;
I call out your name -- you answer not,
And I look for you in every familiar spot.
Everything seems so strange and surreal,
I ask everyday is it a dream or real?

Where are the soft brown eyes of affection?
Where is the laughter and talk of childhood reflection?
Where is the loving care when I was sick or sad?
Where is the generous soul for which I was glad?
Where is the forgiving and understanding heart?
Where are the bonds that were there from the start?

I miss all the little ways you showed you cared,
For there were so many good moments we shared;
Looking back on my life’s assorted scenes,
I realized you taught me what love truly means;
You were my trusted confidante and best friend,
On whose loving support I could always depend.

I look at your smiling face in all my photos;
Memories flood my mind as I touch the mementos
From the happy times you and I have had,
But now these bring tears and make me sad;
For the time together went by in a wink,
Life was not as long as we’d like to think.

Sometimes memories bring comfort and make me smile,
But there are times when grief takes over for a while;
Friends offer gentle words and prayers to console,
And tell me what has happened to your loving soul;
Can it be true what they say of time healing grief?
Is it enough when they say death has given you relief?

Can we believe what others say of a better place,
Where our beloved ones rest in God’s warm embrace?
I should be happy you’re free of pain and sorrow,
And rejoice that you’ll always have tomorrow.
How can I then be so heartbroken and selfishly cry,
Return to me from that peaceful place where you lie!”

Now I look down at your name on a cold hard stone
That says little of the loving light you have shone;
It tells nothing of the wonderful person you were,
And only serves to remind me of the painful loss I endure;
But I know your kind soul wants no tears or pain,
Instead you’d want warm memories and love to remain.

Although I cry and stand grief-stricken by your grave,
I promise not to forget the loving memories you gave;
But still I miss you so very much my sister dear,
And your caring words I once again long to hear;
My heart’s only solace is one day I will see you as before,
Beckoning me to come join you on that white distant shore.

                                                            ~ Belinda Stotler

Letter to Heaven #2

My Dearest Janel,

I had thought with my last letter to you that I was starting to accept the fact that you are gone and in fact I think writing was therapeutic for me.  Maybe I have just gone too long before writing my second letter to you because it has been very difficult.  I find myself tearing up every day, even now.  I wish you could still talk or communicate with me some how, some way.

I've been feeling like I've let you down in some way, that if only I would have noticed your symptoms sooner, that maybe you would still be with us today.  Are my tears more for the guilt I feel than the actual loss?  I don't know... it just hurts not to have you here!  I've read where guilt is one of the hardest phases of coping with a death of a family member.  Guilt plays out in a way that most of us do not understand and yet we may not even realize that we suffer from the feelings of guilt.  We often hear people say, what if or, if I would have just..., these are all part of guilt and we must understand it before we can learn to cope with it.

Then, I wonder what really would have been best for you, my Janel?  What's worse, dying from a heart attack or some other quick way, and not getting the chance to get your affairs in order or say goodbye, or being diagnosed with some terrible disease such as yours and having the opportunity (if that's what you want to call it) to say goodbye, even though you didn't really get to say goodbye because, I think, you thought you were coming home.  God, it was so hard to be by your side and know that you weren't, and to see mom and dad holding your hand and kissing you, knowing their beautiful daughter wasn't going to be with them anymore was truly unbearable.  We were mourning your fate before it really happened.  Janel, there was such a spiritual presence in your room that night with all your aunts, uncle's, cousins, and so on, as we held hands around you and prayed; I will never forget that moment.  We knew your end was very near.  We couldn't tell you that grim news.  We wanted you to keep fighting!  Was three days enough time???  Why can't we just accept death as a part of life???  Why do we have to hurt so much???  ................???  I WILL see you again one day my dear sister.

OK, let me dry my eyes and move on here.  On a lighter note, we had the Robinson Reunion this past weekend and the Piper Reunion will be next weekend.  Both of them are at the City Park this year.  What a beautiful park that is!  I just love those big sprawling oak trees, the large pond with all the ducks that roam throughout, those huge orange and black carp, the rock formations, and just how beautiful that park really is.  Unfortunately, the parking is not very good for the back pavilion, especially for the older generations.  And the concession stand is already closed!  Just because it's after Labor Day shouldn't mean they need to close up.  For heavens sake, it doesn't really get cold until November or later!  Remember when you and I took pictures of mom and dad for their 50th anniversary in 2008?  We thought we were professional photographers!  We did take some good pictures though.

Fantasy Football has started this week and I know how much you and I both grew to love it, not the game itself, but the competition between league members, and which players were scoring. Carl has made sports so much more interesting, hasn't he?  I now have a player I route for, Tim Tebow, with the Denver Broncos.  I know you would've loved him also.  Humility has always been a trait he has exhibited throughout his career.  For his final college game, he chose a Bible verse that showed why.  He wore Ephesians 2:8-10 on his eye black in the Sugar Bowl game.  You know, that streak of black paint the players put on just under their eyes to keep the sun from glaring in their eyes.  The verse reads:  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:  it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  He's an amazing young man!

Autumn has unofficially come.  All of the leaves should be off one of our maple trees in the back yard by the end of September.  We just haven't had enough rain this summer.  I'm not sure we will even have much Fall color on the trees that do have leaves remaining.  We haven't mowed since June, only once two weeks ago to mulch up the leaves that had fallen.

Dad's working in the sun room, painting and refinishing.  It's odd when I go over there, not to see you out there helping him.  You were his "right hand man."  I know how much he must miss your help around the house.  You were everything...  I can wholeheartedly echo the words of Proverbs 23:24: “The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.”

Oh, and I've added another song to My Playlist at the bottom of my blog.  It's #22 on the list, Last Cheater's Waltz by T. G. Sheppard... one of your favorites.  Mom had told me recently that you and her had slow danced to that song in the kitchen one day.  Every time I hear it now, I imagine you both dancing to that and giggling.

In writing this, I feel a calm.  I think you are with me now and see each letter as I type it.  I love you and pray you are by our Lord's side and continue to guide us.

Letter to Heaven #1

Dear Janel,

Just so you know… I talk to you often. I know you hear and feel my pain in missing you. I’m writing to you because I know that you will receive this. I never removed your name from my email contacts. Feel free to write anytime… I also have you in my phone with a special ring tone so that I know it’s you when you decide to call. I’m going to post this on my blog because it will be here forever.

We went to the Potomac Bead Company this year again for Mother’s Day. It was real hard for mom and me to be there without you. I’ve been wearing your bracelet often. I enjoy wearing a piece of your jewelry or one of your outfits. I feel as if you are here with me when I do this.

Your birthday will be here soon and it happens to be on Father’s Day. Mom, dad, and I don’t know whether we will be going up to Pen Mar Park this year to celebrate. You know how much we enjoy going up there for Father’s Day. It might just be too hard for us to have a good time.

Carl and I visited Megan and Glenn earlier in June. We stayed with them and enjoyed a trip downtown to the Market, which we so love. We also enjoyed a beautiful dinner at Glenn’s mom’s home. We had such a nice time it was hard to leave.

Faith is out of school for the summer and I’m anxious to get a call from her saying she’d like to stay for a few days. We do have the twin neighbor girls, Emily and Melanie, to have some fun with. Yesterday, I took some frozen lemonade popsicles outside to share with them. They were both amazed how I froze the lemonade into a popsicle. Kids are so much fun!

The Greencastle Relay for Life was last month and mom, dad, Carl, and I went. I walked the survivors lap and we had a candle lit in remembrance of you. I pray that the donations will help to find a cure for all cancers very soon!

As you probably know, your pet buddy Casey passed away last month, rather suddenly and sort of ironically, from about the same thing you died from. Dad buried him right outside your bedroom window.

Mom and dad are joining us for dinner this afternoon. We still play dominos, although it’s not quite the same without you.

Take care LOVE!!! Don’t forget to send me an occasional sign so I know you are here with me.

Big Sister,