It’s still cold here in upstate New York with piles of hard, dirty snow along the sides of the roads and a messy blanket of icy snow littered with pine cones and branches all over the front and back yards. It’s hard to believe that spring is here and April will arrive with its promise of better things to come.
Six years ago this week was the last week of my sister’s life. I spent the days and nights with her in the hospital watching the agony of her final days. I thought grief had some kind of end, some point in time when reconciliation to loss would come. It hasn’t.
I remember her doctor told me after her death that he had estimated she could live until April. She had an idea that April would be her last month of life. So when April 1 came, so did the end of her life. She died from metastatic breast cancer after a five -year battle. It seemed ironic at first, some kind of cruel April Fool’s Day joke. I never did like April Fool’s Day, since somehow I frequently was on the receiving end of someone’s well-thought-out joke. I always wished I could enjoy the day more, not be so uptight about it and just laugh more at the jokes, but I never was able to do it. Now I never will.
On Friday, April 1, I will take flowers to my sister’s grave. I will choose pink and white carnations as always and try to get the plastic cones into the hard, winter ground. I know many people who say they visit their loved one’s grave for a while at first, but then eventually they taper off and rarely go. I know she is not there. I know when I go, I don’t really feel closer to her. The emptiness is overwhelming. But I go because I have to. I go because I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know how to overcome this grief.