6. What is the hardest experience you've ever gone through?
I've been sitting here thinking about how to answer this question for almost a week now. I know that most of you would think that losing my dad last year to cancer was the hardest experience. Some others may think that finding out that Joshua was autistic was the hardest. But I've thought about it, and I've come up with this. Losing my only sibling unexpectedly was the hardest experience I've ever gone through. Let me tell you why.
My dad's death was expected. From October 2008 until September of 2011, we all knew we were on borrowed time. I have said before that I spent all the time with him that I could, and I have peace with that. When I saw him that night on September 14th, I didn't want to accept the fact that that was the last time I'd see my daddy alive, but when I got the phone call from my mom early that morning I was prepared. I was okay because I had had time to digest what was going on and I had time to mentally prepare his illness and death. Even though I didn't like it, I accepted it. I know that there was nothing left unsaid, no moments wasted. Don't get me wrong, it ripped my heart out. And it still hurts--a lot. But I had closure with my daddy.
When Josh was diagnosed with autism, that was hard too--no doubt. Knowing that your child will always be "different" was extremely difficult. And accepting it and dealing with it has been a part of our daily routine so long that I can't remember life without autism. We have definitely had our bumps in the road, and will probably experience obstacles in the future. But it has gotten easier with time. So even though going through that was hard, it was manageable. And goodness knows I've learned immensely from it. And he's doing great now and that's all that matters.
This takes me to what the hardest experience I've gone through. I feel sometimes I get redundant on this blog, but that's okay. One day I'll look back on this and recall what all was happening in my life. I will need to read this again in the future. I hope that my heart will be healed more then.
A little background on my sister. Sandi was 10 1/2 years older than me. Always the "big sis". I had a hard time getting close to her when I was younger because of our age difference. She was graduating high school when I was barely in elementary school. But as time passed, we got closer. I won't sugar coat anything here--Sandi and I at times were like oil and vinegar. I can't tell you how many times we'd bicker and fight about things, but ultimately we were siblings and well....that's just how siblings act. I'd go running to mom and she'd go running to her too and mom would say, "nope--not getting in the middle of it...you two figure it out and be nice to one another. You're sisters." And this didn't just happen when we were younger, either. It actually happened a lot when we were grown ups and should have known better. But we had a lot of good times too, like going to the Elton John concert together, riding my first loop roller coaster together, and being together when Josh was born. Thank goodness I have lots of happy memories of her. Happy memories are what get me through the hard days.
My sister was an avid lover of nature, singing and music, crafts, photography, biking and basically just life in general. She was a great mom to my nephew, Andrew. She loved her family fiercely. And she had such a strong faith. I can remember talking to her a couple days before she died. I never knew when I hung the phone up that I would never speak to her again. So here's the hardest part for me. When someone dies unexpectedly, it completely shatters your world. There is no time for parting words, no closure whatsoever. When my mom couldn't get my sister to pick up the phone on that Monday morning, the hairs on my arms stood up. I knew something wasn't right. I had worked the night before, and I remember going to bed and saying my prayers and I had just the worst feeling come over me. I couldn't pinpoint it, but I felt horrible. Fast forward to that morning...when mom called, I suddenly couldn't get to my mom and dad's house fast enough. I pulled in the driveway, had the kids stay with my dad, and mom and I went to Sandi's apartment. We couldn't get her to answer the door. At that moment, I knew. I knew she was gone. I was trying to console my mom, my nephew had just pulled up, and the fire department was trying to get in the door. It was like a bad dream. It was something that honestly, I never want to go through again.
I found out later that my sister passed away at the same time the night before when I had that bad feeling come over me. Maybe that was her way of telling me goodbye. No idea....but I've never felt that way before. The days after that were a blur. God instills in us some sort of barrier or bubble wrap to shield us from truly feeling the bad stuff in the beginning. I think that's the only way I got through it. My faith was so shaky back then. I honestly don't know how I got through it. No goodbyes, no working through the dying process, she was simply here one minute and gone the next. I was mad. I was mad at her, I was mad at God, I was mad at everyone. Grief is a weird thing, folks. I can remember riding back from a friend's house one night after I learned about dad getting sicker, and I was having a one-sided shouting match with God in the car while going down the road. I kept saying, "it's not fair, God! You took Sandi away from us and she should be here for dad!!" I was so pissed. Here I am screaming and shouting and really getting my feelings out (and looking like a raving lunatic, I'm sure) and all of a sudden her favorite song came on the radio. Seriously? I shut up then. I had to apologize and calm down. I can imagine that Sandi was probably laughing at my shenanigans. Because that's what we did around one another--we laughed. We shared a twisted humor and when all else failed, we just laughed. It was weird, though. After I heard that song, I felt peace in my heart. Peace that hadn't been there before. The song that I heard was the same one that I played for her during her memorial service. And hearing that in my car that night helped to heal me. Call it coincidence if you'd like. But I feel like God had his hand all in that. And it really helped me to cope with her being gone.
This is Sandi. It's one of my favorite pictures of her. She looks so peaceful and happy. I miss you so much. Save a place for me..