The Sweetest Gift

Jun 01, 2020

From the moment she was born, the summer of my 12th year, I was smitten with my baby sister, Kelly.  Adopted, she was our gift from God.  Sharing a bedroom, every night I would gently take her from her crib and place her on my tummy.  She was just precious, tiny and so sweet.  To me, she was a little miracle angel, and I adored her. 

From infanthood on, Kelly’s blue eyes twinkled, and she laughed often, deeply from her belly, causing everyone around her to promptly break out in laughter too.

We were two peas in a pod and believe it or not, this little munchkin accompanied me often, through my teen years, hanging with my friends.  I didn’t mind at all.

Even when I married young and had children of my own, Kelly joined my growing household on weekends, summers, vacations, and special occasions. We were always very close, although I was no longer living in my parent's home.

As a teenager, she struggled with being adopted and feelings of insecurity and rejection.  It wasn’t easy to understand because to us, she was one of us, a certified and very loved member of our family. However, we had no idea how it felt not to know your biological parents or dealing with the knowledge that her mother had given her away to another family.  We tried to soothe her and convey to her how fortunate we were and how special she was, but that feeling of rejection stayed with her.

Throughout her life, Kelly would intermittently clash with her demons...sometimes in unhealthy ways.

Watching her grow into an adventurous adult was joyful and stressful simultaneously.  The more dangerous her adventure, the more she loved it.  White water rafting, rock climbing, bungee jumping , motorcycle riding, skiing and whatever else she challenged herself with, were her passions.

Her circle of friends grew exponentially, and she and I moved from just “sisters” to “soul sisters”.  Even with our age difference, we were best friends.  Her open heart, generous nature, love of life and laughter were people magnets.  

When she gave birth to her beautiful daughter, Taylor, we were thrilled, and I was honored to be a guest in the delivery room and the lucky person who cut my new, sweet niece’s umbilical cord.  Taylor was a joy to all of us, but a true miracle to her mom.

Kelly was a nontraditional, unconventional mother.  She didn’t let any preconceived, socialized notions of “mothering” influence her style.  Instead, she bulldozed her way through, being the mom she intuitively knew she had to be, which included a lot of listening, teaching independence, adventures, supporting, hugging and loving, but also, a lot of accepting and allowing Taylor to be Taylor.

My sister was a BIG presence wherever she was.  Her personality and energy were positive, light and beautiful.  She made friends wherever she was. Don’t get me wrong, she had her demons, but by all accounts, her light was BRIGHT and beautiful.

When she passed away unexpectedly just before she turned 38, I was devastated.  We all were.  I ached for a very long time and still do occasionally.  It took me a long, long time to objectively look at our loss and see the lesson….somehow this seemed like a betrayal to her…to see any positivity when we were grieving her loss so much.

Now, my heart is filled with joy to have had the “whole experience” of my sister.  To have loved her unconditionally.  To have shared our deepest fears, sorrows, loves, and secrets.  To have laughed so hard we cried (and peed ourselves).  To have accepted her darkness as part of her wholeness. To have trusted her so fully. To have lost her physical presence but to also learn she is always with us anyways.  To have replaced the pain of losing her with love and joy of having her in our lives, in the first place.  To have pure, unconditional love for my sweet Taylor.  To have respected her enough to let go of the pain of losing her.

I have learned to hold the grieving process in reverence and awe.  It is truly a beautiful experience when we learn to let go and act in gratitude - the wisdom of the Universe clutches us in its sturdy hands, as we make our way through.

My heart is bursting from its seams with gratitude that I’ve experienced this holy process of love, loss and transformation.  Because of it, I am better, more open-hearted, empathetic, compassionate, loving, open-minded.  Now, I am aware of what a miraculous gift of healing I have received, and I feel thankful (almost) every day!

Life hands us lemons sometimes.  Delivers miracles.  Showers us with love.  We are gifted by so much.  My sister, Kelly, her birth, her spirit, our sisterhood, her energy & perspective - her living and dying - all of my experience with her - was the sweetest gift of all!

Love is ALL there is!

- Diana

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