THE NIGHT BEFORE THE DAY MY SISTER DIED by Denise Barry.
I dreamed of my sister the night before the day she died.
She and I stood facing each other, just a few feet apart, and I remember thinking, “Wow, she hasn’t looked me directly in the eyes in such a long time.”
Darlene and I had grown apart over the years, but I still felt closer to her than anyone else in my family. She was my big sister, my best friend and, whether she had liked it or not, my protector growing up, so there was no way I could not feel close to her, no matter what.
As I studied her face I found it interesting that she looked younger and more radiant than the last time I had seen her. She’d been looking tired and run-down lately and I’d been concerned. I wanted to tell her that, but the look in her eyes kept me quiet. She had something to say.
For a long time she didn’t say anything, but her eyes never left mine. Not even when her hand shot up to clutch at her throat. Not even when she said the only words she would say; “Oh my god Denise, it hurts so much!”
In real life, when I see someone in pain I go into panic mode. But not here. The only thought I had was that Darlene was the only one in my family who never called me by my nickname. To everyone else I was “Dee”, but Darlene knew me before the short version of my name stuck (thanks to our little sister) and for some reason I felt comforted by this.
Besides, even though I noticed a hint of fear and sadness in her eyes, on a deeper level I recognized acceptance. Whatever was going on here, she seemed okay with it and if she was okay with it, so was I.
Until the phone rang the next morning.
It was our little sister calling to tell me that Darlene was in the hospital. She was having emergency surgery for the aortic aneurysm she had, which had burst the night before.
Forgetting all about the dream, I went into auto-panic. Fear came crashing into my body in gigantic waves, one after the other, until I thought I would drown in it.
“This can’t be happening,” I thought. “What if she dies? She can’t die! They have to fix her!”
On the way to the hospital I decided she was going to be fine so I went ahead and made plans for her recovery. “After the surgery she’ll be good as new”, I assured myself, “and I’ll go to her house every day and take care of her, and we’ll be closer than ever before.”
But she wasn’t fine.
And there would be no recovery.
At Darlene’s funeral, I turned into a parasite, latching on to anyone she had known and sucking them dry of information about her life—the one I hadn’t been a part of for way too long. I desperately needed to know that she had been happy and that her short life had not been wasted. But it didn’t matter what anyone said because it was never enough and I crawled away hungry for more.
When I learned that Darlene’s best friend had been with her the night she was rushed to the hospital I cornered her and began my interrogation; “Missy, tell me everything that happened that night, everything!” I shouted maniacally.
Instead of running away, she nodded her head sadly. She understood.
“Well, Darlene and I were playing cards and I was making her laugh and then all of a sudden she grabbed her throat and said, Somethings wrong. I feel funny, and she told me to stop making her laugh because it hurt when she did.”
Icy shock ran through me as my dream rushed back. This was no coincidence, I was sure of that. The realization of this slowly settled into the void my sister’s death had left in me, and for the first time the questions fell away.
I knew Darlene had come to say goodbye to me and to plant the seed of a promise; we will always be connected, no matter what.
Denise Barry is an inspirational writer and author. Her children’s picture book What Does the Tooth Fairy Do with Our Teeth? is available now on Amazon! To learn more about Denise, visit her at www.denisebarry.net
Jennifer Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. She has been featured on Good Morning America, NY Magazine, Oprah.com. Her writing has been featured on The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, Salon, and more. Jen leads her signature Manifestation Retreats & Workshops all over the world. The next retreat is to Ojai, Calif over Labor Day/New Years. Check out jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up: Seattle, Atlanta, South Dakota, NYC, Dallas, Miami, Tucson & The Berkshires (guest speaker Canyon Ranch.) She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff.
Wow. Super powerful piece.
Thank you taozirae!!!
Thank you so much taozirae!!
Yes, I miss my sister but it reaffirmed that we are more than we see, more than we know Sue! 🙂
Yes we are connected always… I’ve lost two siblings to suicide and one to cancer, I know they are always looking out for me, I feel that connection the second I think about it, I sometimes forget but they will come and remind me, always when I need it too. Hugs
I’m sorry lunajune…I wonder if there’s anything we can do to make them come when we want them to?? That would be awesome!
Your sister Darlene must have been a wonderful person.
With prayers for you and your family,
She was Jean. She taught me a lot!! Even after she died. 🙂
Wonderful and powerful piece. I was very close with my brother who took his own life 4 years ago… and I can totally relate to becoming a “parasite” wanting to cling to anything and anyone my brother knew to make him feel closer. I’m so sorry for your loss and thank you for sharing your story!
Much love to you lhabedank!
What a beautiful story…filled with such hope, amidst your sadness. I am so sorry for the loss of your sister, but so happy you had that dream. Thank you for writing this, and sharing it. Peace to you and your family..
Thank you so much Michele! Peace!
This is an incredibly heartbreaking piece. I wasn’t going to read it simply because I have had horrible nightmares of my sister dying since I was a little kid – which ended up being the reason WHY I read it…
It is difficult to process.
It is beautifully written.
I’m so sorry for your loss.
I hope you’ve been able to find some of the peace you were looking for.
Not only have I found peace with my sister dying jerkasaurusrex, but I have found peace in that death is a part of life. To have died is to have lived. If we make peace with our death and that of our loved ones, we can truly live without fear. Thank you so much for your beautiful words and taking the time to write them!