Because my sister, Barbara, and I have a seven-plus year age difference (we were eight grades apart), we didn’t have many sisterly adventures in our youth. Ones that included our entire family, to be certain, but not a lot with just the two of us. Our sisterly memories are more recent and also ahead of us, I hope.
Barb had two knee replacement surgeries in 2016. I spent two weeks in Vermont with her each time, helping her through the initial rehab. One of my roles was to help in putting on and taking off the compression stocking, a workout for both of us. It took at least ten minutes to put it on. We had to position the toes just right and make sure the heel piece would wind up in the back and not on the side or in front. We joked that it was a bonding experience. I said I was glad she didn't have a third knee.
Barb and I made our first vacation trip together, just the two of us, this past September. We went to Puglia, Italy, one of the few areas that she had never visited. I’d been to the larger cities, but that was it, so I was willing to go anywhere. Barb did all the research and planning. She’d been studying Italian for a few years and it proved to be more useful than she anticipated.
We visited a wide variety of churches and ate many excellent meals. The towns on our planned itinerary were closer than we expected, so we tacked on some smaller ones. They proved to be delightful additions. We took turns driving, alternating days. The weather wasn’t fabulous, but the heaviest rains seemed to come overnight or while we were in museums or having a lengthy meal. We rarely opened our umbrellas.
The photos I took show me that we made some great memories to look back on in future years. They also tell me I need to practice taking selfies. Or get my arms stretched, or else buy a selfie stick.
The notion of future memories took on new meaning for me recently as I looked at Facebook posts of some of my female friends. A college classmate posted a photo of a wedding party she was in a week after we graduated (fifty years ago). She’s a native of Hawaii and that’s where the ceremony took place. One of her other FB friends commented on how beautiful my friend’s sister looked in the photo. It brought tears to my eyes because I knew that her sister, with whom she was very close, died fourteen years ago.
Another friend posted some photos this fall of a trip to her family’s lake cottage in Michigan, where she’d spent summers with her twin sister. The property was being sold, which meant all the childhood treasures—birds’ nests and such—had to be disposed of. It was a bittersweet task, especially because her twin died unexpectedly ten years ago. She was discarding not just her own memories, but her sister’s as well. The two were as close as sisters could possibly be, even though they lived on opposite sides of the country. The nests may be gone, but many wonderful experiences remain to be cherished and shared on Facebook.
These Facebook posts from my friends merged in my mind and I had a realization. It’s true that when we lose someone we love, especially a sister, we still have our memories to sustain us. But what we lose is not just the person who helped us make those memories and could have shared them with us. We’re also being deprived of the chance to make future ones. That’s a loss that cannot be measured. As much as we cherish the past, we’ll never know what we might have done together in the future.
I’m fortunate to still have my sister in my life and to be able to look forward to making more trips with her to reminisce about in the years to come. I plan to take advantage of this as much as she’ll allow me to. I just hope that none of the new adventures involve compression stockings.
Copyright 2018 Elaine M. Decker