It struck me again what a gift her last words to me were. I don't think I've written down yet the story of her last words to me. I say "last words" a little loosely, as we had a conversation about many things on that last day she was conscious. She asked me to write her obituary and to help Josh pick a headstone. She told me that she wanted a plain headstone with nothing on it "Not even my name." She was not entirely herself that day and some of the things she said she weren't quite right.
Her friend, Jennie, had texted me and told me that I should come see Alisa that day, that she was slipping away fast. She said that she had been with her for a couple of hours and only a few things she said were really appropriate for the context. So I made arrangements and went down. I'm so glad I did.
As I drove, I considered what I wanted to tell her. Josh was in the room and he got to hear it too. I wanted her to know how much she has meant to me in my life and how much I truly love her. I told her so and told her how sad I was that it had taken cancer for me to stop being jealous of her. I had written her a long letter about it, thanking her for loving me no matter what and for helping me with so much throughout my life. After I started telling her some of these things in the same spirit as the letter, she told me she had read it. I can't remember what else she said, but then she said, "Sonja, don't be mad at yourself." Then in a bossy tone, "Josh, don't let Sonja be mad at herself." Josh and I both laughed and Josh assured her that he wouldn't. It seemed like a strange comment in the context--a bit of the delirium of someone whose mind was failing.
But it stayed in my mind and I wondered about it as I drove home that night. The next day I was going down again and was picking up my sister, Kirsten, so she could go see Alisa. I was late getting out the door and knew I'd have to almost turn right back around to pick up kids from school. As I was backing out of my driveway, I was cursing my perpetual tardiness and I heard myself say, "I'm so mad at myself!" As I said it, I realized that it is a phrase that often passes through my mind. And then just as strong, I heard Alisa's command, "Sonja, don't be mad at yourself."
Many times in the past few months, I've caught myself getting angry at my weaknesses. And many times I hear her last advice to me. I can't tell you what a powerful gift they are. She knew me so well--maybe better than I know myself. By the end of her life, Alisa had such a beautiful and merciful life perspective. I think she understood that negativity was wasted energy and time and just did her best and left it at that. And so with her words and her example, I plan to remember that just like everyone else, I am doing my best. And while I can certainly strive for better, being angry at myself wont help.
|My beautiful sister on her 35th birthday|