Sweet Sorrow.

9 years ago my sister was married. Yesterday, March 7th, marks 8 years since my sister went home to the arms of Jesus. It's another "heaven birthday" as I like to think of it.

It feels somewhat surreal. A couple days ago I was feeling edgy and irritable all day and I couldn't really put a finger on what was bugging me. And as I was washing the dishes and trying to pinpoint where my angst was coming from it hit me. I'm grieving. I really miss my sister. And my body, like clockwork recognizes this time of year. It knows the season. My very bones have recorded the pain of when I lost my sister.

The light is the same. Every March I see the sun setting and see the same light that I saw after her funeral. It's strange how the light changes throughout the year. And once again we've traveled around the sun and we're back to springtime. 

I used to be angry in March. Things were coming to life. Buds on trees. Spring's arrival. Reminders of new life. New birth. Freshness. Newness. These things seemed to mock me after my sister's death. Spring became death to me. It became loss. Pain. Tears. Heartache.

Now I see differently. My sister was being birthed into Heaven. Libby was stepping from this world into the next. She moved through death into life. She is in the presence of Jesus now and forever. Because of Christ's resurrection death has no sting. Death is merely the vehicle that moves us from here to there. 

This time of year still doesn't cease to be painful. I still hurt. I miss her. I would love to be with her. I lost a lot when she went home. My sister wasn't just my sister. She was my dear friend, one of my closest confidantes, my fashionista expert, my bossy little sister. The one who understood family dynamics. The one I went to China with and taught English. She was the one who saw me throw up on the Great Wall and who later braved the streets of Beijing for me to get a calling card so I could call home and complain of my sickness. She sang as I walked down the aisle to my groom. She was who I argued with, cried with, laughed with and if all else failed ate ice-cream with.  

Things I remember about my sister:

- She was amazing at playing "Chubby Bunny"... she could stuff so many marshmallows in her mouth.
- Sometimes she would snort when she would laugh really hard.
- She played the guitar and sang beautifully.
- She was compassionate toward those with disabilities.
- She loved her some shoes!
- She would gasp at everything. It could be remembering something she forgot or seeing someone she hadn't seen in a while. It was almost always very startling.
- She loved me.
- She had a great laugh.
- She was extraordinarily beautiful inside and out.
- She loved Lucky Charms.
- She was a true girl- Loved chocolate.
- She enjoyed riding horses.
- She and I played sports together. During softball I would freak out every time she went up to bat. It would make me so anxious. I was so worried she'd strike out... she rarely struck out.
- She would visit me when I was working at Starbucks- caramel macchiatto or white chocolate mocha?
- She and I made up our own dance routine to Amy Grant's "Baby Baby"
- The way she would say, "Je-ennn...." followed by eye roll.
- The way her eyes crinkled when she laughed.
- Icecream- it's what's for breakfast.
- Swimming in the pool playing Marco Polo and other water games.
- watching her play soccer, basketball, softball.
- Playing tennis together. 
- Grocery shopping with her when she was pregnant. She would get so sick she would have to run to the bathroom. I pushed the cart around.
- Her smile- beautiful, genuine, and larger than life.
- Her wide feet.
- Getting matching flip-flops together.
- Eating twizzlers. 
- Playing hopscotch and jump rope.
- birthdays, birthdays, birthdays.
- Getting Christmas trees on her birthday.
- She used to be afraid of Cancer. She would call it "c" (literally)
- She was afraid of getting old because she thought she would be scared of herself. Wrinkles freaked her out.
- My side-kick at any family event... including dramas I would make-up, fashion shows, and magic shows... singing... I can't believe she would do what I said.
- Her love of tulips.
- Her love for Jesus.
- Going to the state fair as a family... her laughter at the pig races.
- Peanutbutter pretzels.
- Inside jokes.
- She would never talk until she brushed her teeth. 
- Playing office as kids. We loved to pretend to drink coffee as we wrote on legal pads.
- Overhearing her sing in the shower or in her bedroom while playing guitar.
- Her stealing the dog from my brother to sleep in her bed... even though she got to have the dog most every night... poor Christopher!
- Talking late into the night while scratching each other's backs. 
- shared pets: hamsters, dogs, fish, guinea pigs, bunnies.
- Her lying to me about ever having her eyebrows waxed.
- Her empathy on men and marriage.
- Walking the beach.
- Taking pictures.
- Road trips.
- Singing music in the car at the top of our lungs.
- Her encouragement to dress a little more different... less like myself :)
- Eating a can of green beans at a party I had for my bridesmaids.... we didn't know then she was pregnant with Sam!
- Insisting on blueberry crumb-topped muffins on her wedding day... that I stayed up til midnight making for her... that she was too nervous to eat.
- Her engagement in NYC.
- The most beautiful bride I'd ever seen.
- Talking on the phone when I was in Australia... we both cried a lot on the phone.
- Watching her toss her hair.
- Bath & Body Works lotion and body spray.
- listening to Dad read Chronicles of Narnia
- She introduced me to good music.
- Roofing with her and my brother... we were using "pitch"? Covered head to foot in stickiness, Requiring kerosene to scrub off. We got stares when we went to McD's for lunch.
- Her warning me to be careful or Mike and I would end up falling in love with each other (when Mike and I were just friends before Mike and I were boyfriend and girlfriend.)
- The way she stood with her hands on her hips.
- Feeling Sam kick my hand. Libby laughing and pushing him so he wouldn't be hurting her ribs.
- Her praying continuously for my great-grandparents salvation. My great-grandfather died years after her death... he became a Christian a couple weeks before he passed at 100.
- Shopping for maternity clothes with me... a week before she went home.
- She would get her nails painted and then be chipping at her nails hours later... by the evening she'd take off the nail polish.
- As a little girl she hated to wear tights.
- Til We Have Faces... C.S. Lewis
- Movies. You've Got Mail. Pride & Prejudice. Emma. Sense & Sensibility.
- Mission trips together.
- writing encouraging valentines for her caregroup ladies
- She was never afraid of labor/giving birth
- Our regular date with Billy Blank's Advanced Tae-Bo
- Playing in our two-story play house our dad built. I can't tell you how many "clubs" we had!
- Her desire for "jelly" shoes. Her feet were too wide for jellies. She was devastated.
- Wearing bangles.
- Getting ears pierced.
- Screaming over the cockroach in our hotel room in Beijing.
- Her getting in trouble at school often for not being able to stop giggling.
- Learning how to shave our legs.
- Baking cookies with Grandma.
- A complete and total middle child.
- The way she'd put up with my emotional outbursts and theatrical displays.
- Paddleboats at Northwest River State Park. Feeding the ducks.
- She always thought people were talking about her or laughing at her... which made her suspicious... and was even more fun because she was so gullible!
- Rescuing her from a babysitting experience when one of the children drew all over a table... or was it a wall?
- Babysitting Waskos and Williams together. We were nuts! Especially when the van got towed.... Aaaagh.
-Meeting Chris Rice at Summer Camp. We were shocked. Later listening to his album in March... Untitled Hymn
-Sunrise at the Beach with Powerline.
-Worshipping together.
- Her amazing... tight... hugs!
- Fall Bonfires.
- Watching her ride bareback in West Virginia.
- Eating way too many s'mores.
- Playing Skip-Bo and Uno.
- Her accidentally giving Christopher a concussion....
- Piano Lessons together at Mrs. Beecham's.
- She loved the smell of gasoline.
- Coming home from prom to find her and Jeremy Parker sitting talking in the kitchen. It was like 11:30... what the hey... but I was on my way to Paris the next day, I had to go pack.
- Peeing in the woods in N. Carolina.
- Screaming for Christopher to pull the ticks off.
- Conspiring on the phone with Mike Gris to determine engagement ring and plans... while we were in CHINA... Libby walks in... "Who are you talking to? she says all annoyed. "Mike!" "Well, hurry up I want to call My Mike..." Little did she know I was talking to her Mike... not my Mike :)
- Her skit which she did for Singles and then for church... She acted like such a ditz... she was supposed to be a contestant who was being asked dating questions... when asked what she thinks is a perfect date she replied... "April 21st... because it's not too hot and not too cold."
- My nickname for her "Libbeth Anne"
- We also called her Libby Anne JOY.
- Libby was with me at my first OBGYN appt. it was the first time I met my mid-wife Debbie.... and the last time Debbie saw Libby.
- One of Libby's elementary school classmates thought her name was "Libbya"
- She loved TARGET!!!
- Dunkin Donuts
- Getting our hair braided in Mexico.
- Also in Mexico, Watching her accuse me of being a jerk because I bargained... and then watch her turn into a bargain nazi!
- Begging her to order pizza for me... I hated calling strangers... I would get so nervous.
- Her holding our dying dog Sophie... after witnessing the accident.
- Her love of children.
- She wanted lots of kids.
- Bagels.
- Campfire songs.
- Her voice... laughing, talking, singing.
- Working out at the Rec Center together.

I could go on and on... so many memories. What a precious sister I was given. I am so blessed to have been her sister... and I look forward to the day where we're reunited... and I can meet my nephew.. and we can worship Jesus together... the ultimate longing fulfilled. Til then I know she is rejoicing in the love of her Savior and she's probably also egging me on.... (Hebrews 12:1)

I love you Libby! MWAH!


Cresta said…
You made me cry for you. What a wonderful sister you had! You were blessed beyond measure.
Mixue said…
Beautiful. It made me laugh to remember how you and Libby told me about your Great Wall experience and she said she was gonna get you a t-shirt like the ones they sell there that say "I climbed the Great Wall" - but that said "I threw up on the Great Wall." What a great memory. :) What a blessing to be able to remember so many fun, funny, and difficult times with your sweet sister.
Crums said…
Big hug to you, Jen. And to all of your family. You have a great sister and you ARE a great sister as well.

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