Tag Archives: robin knight

Because You Loved Me…..

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Because You Loved Me…..

 

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It’s 2 am and I cannot sleep. I lie in bed after an emotional day tossing and turning and clutching the dainty necklace around my neck. It’s the only thing I have left besides 6 photographs that remind me of my late sister Robin. For months I have been putting off writing about what this necklace means to me and decided there is no time like the present.

My sister Robin Knight Nutbrown and Bonny Dover Burton were born on the same day in the Brome Missisquoi Hospital on January 28 of 1956. Our mothers were friends and her mum thought it would be nice if the two girls had matching necklaces. Through the years of sickness and family upheaval Robin must have misplaced hers, but Bonny still had hers and after 62 years she sent it to me.The gold necklace still glistens and the garnet is in great condition, so I knew that Mrs. Dover must have bought these necklaces at the local jewellers and not the five and dime. I wear it at least once a week because it helps me remember the good times and not dwell on the bad.

 

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Knight family 1957 Cowansville, Quebec

Robin and I were as different as night and day. Five and a half years between us she was the sporty gal, the equestrian rider, and I was the book worm, the dreamer and the writer. Robin wore great classic clothes and was thin and I was the chubby one and made all my own crazy clothes. She finished school and married the nice Anglican boy and had 2.3 children and I left home at age 15 ½ and became a fashion designer in Montreal. She was my father’s delight and I was my father’s disappointment. Different as night and day, but we shared a past that no child wants to grow up in.

When my Mother passed away, I was 12 and my sister was 6 and a half. We were at home alone a lot due to my father’s civic duties and as my psychiatrist at 18 told me I never had a childhood because I had to look after my sister. That was a textbook diagnosis, but I would like to think it made us stronger. We both grew up with strong wills, street smarts and survived just like that necklace.

 

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1980s the late Robin Knight Nutbrown and sons Adam and Matthew

 

I protested the Viet Nam War and computers, professors and  discrimination at Sir George William University in Montreal during 1968. Meanwhile my sister survived back home and longed to get out on her own. Later on in life Robin fought everyone in Belleville, Ont. to mainstream her autistic oldest son, and even though hindered at each corner; she became a trailblazer for those in her area with special needs children. She refused to segregate her oldest son who was autistic and forced the school board to hire an extra teacher so her child could go to a normal school.  Robin never assumed everything was okay just because others were telling her that, and she volunteered each chance she could to monitor her son’s progress. Unlike some of the people she fought, her family was able to find the beauty and joy in Adam’s differences and he thrived. Because of the dedication of my sister, my nephew enjoyed school, graduated 1000 Islands Secondary School, and went to Boy Scouts for many years. He travelled to Alaska in later years with a local group and has held part time jobs where he is loved.

Sometimes I wish I had this necklace when I saw that she was dying from cancer years ago at age 40. But like the shiny red jewel strung onto this necklace she was too  proud to ever be anyone’s conquest, even cancer, and she valiantly fought it to the finish. Robin was  connected to me, no matter how different we both were. No matter how hard life was for us we did not run away from the struggle, we accepted it as it comes with all the handicaps and injustices.  I am the last one left now, and each day I am living for the moment. But thanks to Bonny I am walking around with a memory of her, a necklace of hope, an armour of sanity. But, at the end of the day, it has to come off– but no matter if the necklace is on or off– the love is still there and Robin, you will always be in my heart.

Thanks Bonny for the necklace.

 

 

I Wrote This Because You Loved Me

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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.