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.

54 Thoughtful Comments:

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

I am so very sorry Rhonda. I had no idea you were going through such heartache.
To lose a sister, and she was still so young, I am so sorry again.
I will keep you in my prayers.
Take time to take care of you too and we will be here to offer support.
Big Hugs friend,
And tears for you too,

Della said...

I am so very sorry for your loss dear Rhonda. You have been in my thoughts, and prayers for some time now, and you will remain so. Take care of yourself, and your family, sweet lady. I hope to see you upon your return, whenever that may be. Much love to you and yours.
So sorry.

Seashells and Southern Belles said...

Praying for you and your family during this time... May the Lord be with you!

Anonymous said...

I am very sorry for your loss my friend. I will send some prayers your way right away. My heart breaks for you and your family. Try to be as strong as you can, but know that it is okay to cry and break down. Take this all one day at a time and if that is too much to face, take it one hour at a time. Thinking of you my friend.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

Dear dear heart goes out to you and I am saddened by your loss. I'll keep you and your family in my prayers. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do! With love, your friend, Diane ♥

Jane said...

Dear Rhonda,
I am so very sorry for your loss. Losing a sister...especially when you were as close as the two of horrible! devastating! You have been in my thoughts this past week. Take this time to come to grips with your loss. Let others pitch in, too. You know how to reach me, if I can be of help.
Hugs...and tears for you,

Blondie's Journal said...

Rhonda...words can't express my sorrow. Your words are so sad and pleading. I have no advice or words of comfort but I will hold you in my heart.


RobinfromCA said...

My deepest sympathies, Rhonda. There aren't any words that are adequate at a time like this so I will send my prayers that you will find strength and comfort through the love of your family and memories that you hold dear. I am glad you are taking time for yourself.


Desert Dreaming said...

Oh Rhonda, I am so very sorry for the loss of your sweet sister. I've lost two siblings within 4 years of one another, both only 49 so as much as I can say I feel your pain, no one can, we each grieve differently, but we do know the pain. Please try and think of those beautiful memories you shared to help you, and let others help you, get some rest when you can. You have so many people who care and will reach out to help you. You and your family are in my prayers. I pray God gives you the strenght to accept this and to help you through your pain.

Your Florida Friend!!!


Linda @ A La Carte said...

Rhonda take care of yourself, your family and know that I am sending you love and prayers. I am so sorry for the loss of your sweet sister. I'm crying with you and hugging you also. Linda

beachcomber said...

so sorry for your loss. it's hard to lose a sibling. my sister passed away at 50.
take care!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

There are no words, Rhonda, to express the sympathy in my heart. Please know how much we love you. And I'm always here for you...



Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Losing someone so close is really hard, all my love to you and your family.

Jane's DIL

Sea Witch said...

Rhonda, I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine my life without my baby sis. I will keep you and your family in my heart. Know that you have amy hearts thinking of you Sea Witch

The Single Nester said...

My heart breaks for you. I lost my only sibling, my brother, last April 2010 and it sucks! 1/2 my history is gone. My prayers are being sent your way.

Karen said...

Though the voice is silent.. the spirit echos still.

I am so sorry to hear of your tragic loss, Rhonda.

Shelllady said...

So Sorry to hear about your loss Rhonda, please know that your blogging family is here with prayers and full support. Take care of your family, but mostly yourself I know this must be a terrible heartache! Much Love and Prayers to you and your family!!



RottenMom said...

I am so very sorry for the loss of your beautiful sister. This has certainly been a horrible summer for your family. I have no words to express how deeply touching and heartbreaking it was to read this tribute to your sister.

You and your family will continue to be in my prayers.
Love to you my sweet friend.

gpc said...

I am so sorry, what a terrible loss. My heart is with you.

Beach House 27 said...

I'm so sorry Rhonda, I can't even begin to imagine your pain.

I think that taking care of everyone else is the best thing you can do to take care of yourself.

Here's a hug and a reminder to think about all the laughs you shared -


Country Wings in Phoenix said...

Oh Rhonda Sweetie...
I am so sorry to hear about your Sister Sandra. With the love that you two shared, you have so many memories together. When you miss her, you can pull a memory from the shelf in your mind and bring her right back to you.

I am sending my angel to comfort you and give you strength sweet one. I know you need her.

I will be sending up prayers for you and your family sweet friend. Many hugs and SO much love, Sherry

Kaybe said...

Love you!

Loui♥ said...

Oh Shelle..
my heart is breaking..
because you are in such agony..
at the loss of your dear sister..
I'm there with you in spirit..
helping wherever needed..
peeling potatoes.. washing dishes..
running to the store for tissues and toilet paper..
from my heart to yours..
prayers of love..
healing for the broken hearts..
and love..
because it cures almost everything..
I'm here should you need an ear or a or nite..
anything..just's yours!
warmest loving hugs..

Anonymous said...

Rhonda - I'm sorry you are hurting. I'm glad you are surrounding yourself with those who love you.

I am sending you a Grand Canyon size hug. Please take care of yourself. My prayers are with you.

The Decorative Dreamer said...

Rhonda I am so sorry! I have tears in my eyes for you because I lost my sister too in 2003. I remember trying to be the strong one for everyone just as you described and the terribly conflicting feelings that your sister is missing from this very important family event that everyone should be attending. I understand those hollow feelings and how hard it is to loose a sister. My heart grieves for you and your family and I will be praying for you often. May God give your strength in the coming days, you can lean on him! Much love!

Kim@Snug Harbor said...

Dearest Rhonda: I am so sorry for your loss and words can never express the saddness I feel for you in my heart. I heard about your loss while I was in Colorado visiting my sister. Sunday we hiked to the top of a glacier and as we looked down at a beautiful lake and the surrounding mountains, I thought of you. I am going to email you the picture I took in your sisters honor. Hugs my friend.

rjerdee said...

Oh, Rhonda, this is all so sad. Take all the time you need...we'll be here when you get back.
Hugs and prayers,

michelle said...

Rhonda I am so very sorry. I am praying for you and your family and take all the time you need sweet friend.
hugs to you..

Completely Coastal said...

The title of the poem is so perfect. We are spiritual beings... and out of (physical) sight does not mean gone. I hope you get the time and space to feel. My deepest heart felt sympathies, dear Rhonda!

Anita @ GoingALittleCoastal said...

So sorry to hear about your sister Rhonda. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. ((hugs))

Seaside Style said...

Rhonda, I am so very sorry for your loss. I know words can really comfort you, but my thought and prayers are with you.


sam said...


I am so sorry for the loss of your sister. You and your family are in my thoughts.


Arabella said...

Dearest Rhonda -

I'm so sorry to hear this news. There are just no words which can comfort you but please know that I am thinking and praying for you and your family.

May your heart be filled with all the love you have for your sister and all the love from those of us around the world that love you.

Here's a great BIG hug for you!!


CHERI said...

Rhonda, I've been away from blogging for awhile and just am now reading your post about the loss of your sister. I am so, so very sorry. I can hear the hurt in your words and my heart hurts for you. I pray that you are feeling stronger each day and that your many sweet memories will sustain you until you come to the day when you will think of her and smile once again. Please let us know how you are doing. God bless you and your family.

Sue said...

My sweet friend-I am so sorry that I am just now reading this. My blogging hasn't been as active this summer and I realized today that I hadn't seen anything posted from you for a while and I wanted to check in. I am so sorry for your loss. I have one sister and I can't imagine the pain you must be in. Your sister was much too young to leave you. Take care of yourself. Don't get too busy taking care of everyone else. Sending a big hug your way.

gayle said...

Just wanted to let you know I'm thinking about you! So very sorry about the passing of your sister!

CrazyCris said...

Oh Rhonda!!!
I am so very sorry! I can't imagine losing a sister... and from your writings we all know how close you guys were! My heart aches for you.

I'm reading this very late, but I hope the time that has gone by since you posted this has helped you somewhat. All I can say from over here is HUGS!!!!

all the best,

PS: I've thought of you several times while out diving and snorkelling, seeing shells on the seabed that I knew you'd love! I hope your passion for the seas will help you through this.

Tricia said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I can't imagine the pain and anguish that your are feeling after loosing someone so special to your life. Hold all your memories close and take pleasure in them. Hugs to you ♥

Jen Beaudet Z said...

I'm so sorry for your great loss. You will be in my prayers. Please take care, Rhonda.
Jennifer said...

I don't speack english but i am sorry for you.Kiss of France .Isabelle

sealaura said...

Rhonda, so sorry that you lost your sister. sending you hugs and prayers from California. xx

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

Oh sweetie, I'm so very sorry to hear this. I know it hurts badly right now but your precious sister will live forever in your heart.

I pray you are takin' the time you need to heal and take care of you.

God bless and may God wrap His ever~lovin' arms of peace around you.

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Oh Rhonda
I'm speechless.. I've been away.. so sorry I couldn't be there for you!!!

will email.. xxxx

Leo said...

Rhonda - just checking in to see how you are holding up. Hope all is well. Take care...XOXO Debbie

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

'Just checkin' in on ya...have a blessed weekend sweetie!!!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Thinking of you today, my friend.

We have some crazy weather going on over here on the East Coast. It's like a Nor'easter, only it rains a tiny bit. Stops. Rains again in a deluge. Stops. Blows like the Big Bad Wolf and never stops. Crazy, I tell you.

Hope all is well on the other side of the penisula.

Love you...



sealaura said...

Hola Amiga,

Hope you are well. Wanted to stop by and say hello and let you know you are missed!

Sue said...

Just wanted to stop and tell you that I miss you around here. I hope you are doing okay.

michelle said...

Just wanted to stop by and say Hi and I hope that you are doing ok. We miss you but know that you are healing, Take all the time. We are thinking about you my friend.
Hugs to you!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

I am really missing you. I've been tied up with all kinds of junk here, but I keep hoping that I will be able to get down to see you. MISS YOU. MISS YOU MUCH!



Everything Coastal said...

I am so sorry, I have been so behind in my blog reading and had no idea that you were suffering. Cannot imagine what you are going through. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Please write soon, as we all miss you and are here to support your heart.


Desire Empire said...

I am very sorry for your loss.

Carolyn xx

Rockspring said...

Just stumbled upon your post about your sister. I lost my only sister in 2009. She was my baby sister, too. I miss her terribly. I really enjoyed the poem that you dedicated to your sister. The bond between sisters is so strong and special that only sisters can truly understand it.

Rockspring said...

Just stumbled upon your post about your sister. I lost my only sister in 2009. She was my baby sister, too. I miss her terribly. I really enjoyed the poem that you dedicated to your sister. The bond between sisters is so strong and special that only sisters can truly understand it.

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