I apologize for the lack of posts—the lack of communication. This came about from a tragic, unforeseen phone call. On April 16, I received a call that my sister, Vivian Anderson, had passed away suddenly. She was 52-years old. That day, my sister had called me but we were in Holland. By the time we got home and settled, it was 9:00 pm in Germany, so I didn’t call her back. I figured I’d call her the next day. If only…
Death is profound—we immerse ourselves in anguish and reflection. Things we hadn’t thought about in decades floats to the surface of our conscious. Good and bad memories sift through continuous feelings with a few ‘what might have been’ or ‘what if’s’ tangled in between. People tell me that the pain will subside. The truth is that the pain burrows itself in my heart. I learn to live with every loss.
Four years prior, my mother passed away. My sister and I lost a piece of who we were that day. The void nudged its way in—a numbness that made whatever was important in our lives become insignificant. What we wanted before was no longer a desire. Death tends to be a turning point. We both found new meaning, new lives, in other parts of the world; hers in Arizona, and mine in Germany. Although we lived over 5,000 miles away, we kept in touch on a weekly basis. Through hardships and joy, we let each other know what was going on. We were each other’s lifeline to our mother.
When Vivian died, I not only lost my one and only sister, but the link to my mother. It pulled forth the pain hidden in my heart, adding to the current anguish. A perpetual silent suffering that will be provoked from time to time, enhancing the moment of loss, and triggering years of memories.
My sister and I shared a room. We brushed each other’s hair, played Barbies and jacks together. Teen posters of David Cassidy decorated her side of the room. A child of the 70s, she liked disco, long straight hair, and Angel blouses. I wanted to be like her. Vivian taught me how to ride a bike. She helped me get my license. I was her maid of honor in her wedding, the godmother to her first-born, and spent many years with her and the children. I loved that my sister made me such a big part of her life because it left me with so many memories.
Vivian was a strong, positive person, and in the face of conflict, she always saw the light at the end of the tunnel. She wore joy on her sleeve. She had two beautiful children, Renee and Zachary, which she was forever proud of. My sister was loving, caring, and smart when it came to the medical field. She was an EMT for many years, and the best phlebotomist you could ever have drawn your blood. While watching ER, she would rattle off what was needed for the patient before the actors did. As I worked on my current manuscript, I’d send her text messages asking her medical questions.
In 2007, we went to Gatlinburg, TN together. We had a great time with many laughs. I even convinced her, even though I was afraid of heights too, to take the ski lift up into the Smoky Mountains. I told her she might never get the opportunity again. A remembrance I’ll keep close to me forever.
I write this to you today, trying to catch up with life, making the things I put on hold somewhat relevant again. After reading this post, I hope you walk away knowing a little bit about my sister, Vivian, and a lesson about life and loss. Don’t be afraid to hug or say “I love you” to your loved ones. Don’t just text people when you have the opportunity to hear their voice. Make sure those that matter to you know it through words and action. And lastly, make every moment count.
Sisters and Memories,