Monday, August 8, 2011

Gone From My Sight, Not From My Heart

Sandra Kay Rathburn (1954–2011)

How do you say goodbye to a sister?

You pick up the phone to call,

even though you know she will not answer.

You just want to hear her voice again,

even though you know it will be for the last time.

She says, "Sorry I missed your call."

You weep.

You try again.

You weep again.

She says, "Bye."

You say, "No, wait, I have more to say."

There is just silence on the other end.

–Rhonda Renée

This has been the toughest week of my life. I lost my sister on Tuesday, August 2, 2011. She moved on to world free of pain and sorrow, but left me behind with the same. I woke each day knowing that I had to stay strong for the rest of the family. I am the matriarch, I had to keep to task. Notify her children, notify other family members and friends. Arrangements had to be made, t's had to be crossed, do this, do that. Clean the house, cook some food, figure out who would sleep where. The house is full, but someone is missing. How could the family gather together and my sister not be here? I see her children, one of her grandsons and my own daughter who loved her so dearly.

I want to run, I want to get away. If they are all here and she is not, then something is wrong, very wrong.

Go through the motions. Let's see what do I have in the house? A pot of black-eyed peas goes on the stove, but all I have are those ham hocks from Sweet Bay that have no meat. They will have to do. Oh, and potato salad, they all love potato salad. Throw a cornbread together. What else, what else?

With my baby sister in 1955
Sweep the floor, make the beds, pull out extra blankets. Run to the store, make a gallon of tea. What do they like? I can't remember, I can't think. This will all have to do. My hands go through the motions, but my brain is not working. Busy work.

Why do I have to do this? I just want to crawl back in bed and cry. No, can't do that, they will all be here soon.

Did the Red Cross get their military leaves taken care of? What time do flights arrive?

I have so much to do, but I don't know where to start. I don't know where it will end. Say goodbye to my sister? I don't know how to do that. I don't have time to break down. There is much to be done. Why me? Someone else come take care of this, I just want to run away. Away to a place where my sister is still alive. I don't know how to say goodbye to my sister.

Family and friends gathered on Saturday to celebrate the life of

Sandra Kay Rathburn

September 29, 1954 – August 2, 2011

The following is adapted from a poem, The Ship by Bishop Brent (1862–1926), I would like to dedicate this in memory to my sister.

Gone From My Sight, Not From My Heart

I am standing upon the seashore.
A little ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. 

She is an object of beauty and strength. 
I stand and watch her until at length 
she hangs like a speck of white cloud 
just where the sea and sky come 
to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says;
"There, she is gone!"

"Gone where?"
Gone from my sight. That is all. 
She is just as large in mast and hull 
and spar as she was when she left my side 
and she is just as able to bear her 
load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

I stood watching as the little ship sailed out to sea.
The setting sun tinted her white sails with a golden light,
and as she disappeared from sight a voice at my side whispered again,
“She is gone”.

On the farther shore a little band of family and friends had gathered to watch and wait.
Suddenly they caught sight of the tiny sail and,
at the very moment when my companion had whispered,
“She is gone” a glad shout went up in joyous welcome,
“Here she comes! Here she comes!”

Standing on the bandstand that our daddy built
with the Sea Bees at Heritage Park in Florida

Shellbelle's Tiki Hut will be taking an extended break, so that I can be there for those who loved her and so that I can take care of myself.

I love the beach and everything that goes with it! I love the waves lapping at my feet. I love the feel of the sand between my toes. I love the roar of the Pacific and the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Let's talk about beaches around the world, bonfires, building sandcastles, swaying palm trees, flamingos, clambakes, sunrises and sunsets. If it's tropical, it fits this blog!


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