The hour after my sister died I found myself asleep in a hospital chair dreaming of a wall sized art painting that featured ugly trolls holding crow marionettes. It was an awful painting and I had no idea why I was there. Right below the painting two lines of words were written on the wall:
Joy in Life
Joy in Death
Now what was that supposed to mean, I asked myself. There might be some joy in life but is there really joy in death? There was no doubt in my mind that I had experienced a lot of tragedy through my life. From the minute I was born, to this particular moment in time, death has always seemed to stalk me. It seems to challenge me at every moment and creates a permanent sadness deep in my soul. I had seen so many people die in front of me that others felt I knew the final secrets just by looking at me and they would ask:
“What do you do when someone dies?”
“What do you say to those that survive?”
I knew I could not stop life or death so I would silently ponder and say to them quietly:
“Joy in life”
“Joy in death”
My sister had been the hardest to watch as I knew she was dying the minute I saw her laying on the couch. The look in her eyes had been the same as my mother’s; lost eyes, lost body, and watching her soul gradually inch away each day. From the very first second I touched her to her very last minutes I always knew that she was not long for this planet.
Crying in anger for all our lost years, I now knew I could not stop her from dying, but what could I do? I drove to Kingston, Ontario every few days and read her happy stories hoping they might encourage her unconscious body that kept asking itself:
Joy in Life?
Joy in Death?
I constantly held her hand, and talked to her even though she could not hear me. The cancer had now completely ravaged her and she was put on ventilation. No one could get to her, and no one could seem to help. I knew God was watching over her, but my heart said I needed to try do more. I thought backwards forward and sideways, and then I realized there was only one person who might give her some comfort.
It was Celine Dion.
My sister loved the music of Celine and her favourite song was “Because You Loved Me”. So as I sang her a few verses each day I remembered our past. No matter what words were said between us throughout the years it did not matter to my sister. She always seemed to hear my voice when I could not speak and no matter what I felt she always saw the best in me.
Ten days after I started singing her that song my sister Robin died. After such a long struggle all I could do was close her eyes and kiss her. All the anger through the years had finally come to this tragic ending.
I woke up and drove the 85 miles home crying through the darkness of night. When I stopped the car a tiny white moth flew around me in a 360 degree circle 6 times. It flew by my ear so close I swear I heard it breathing. As I lowered my head in tears it sang quietly into my ears.
“You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn’t speak
You were my eyes when I couldn’t see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach
You gave me faith ‘coz you believed
I’m everything I am
Because you loved me”
No matter what had happened or transpired in our lives my dear sister; I am everything because you loved me.