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My sister Lavice was eighteen years old when I was born in Arbyrd, Missouri. There were no other children between us. Lavice and I had a relationship more like mother and daugther than like sisters and even her death hasn’t been able to sever that bond.
As I grew up, married, and followed my sailor husband to various stations around the world our bond remained. If she was sick, I suffered her aches and pains. If she was happy, I felt happy. When she was depressed, I, too, would experience an emotional “Down.” Our frequent letters confirmed this empathy.
In 1962 my sister learned that she was dying of cancer. At that time she was living in Watsonville, California, and I was living in Washington, D.C. When the news reached me I immediately left for California, I drove to Missouri, packed my mother and younger brother into the car with my own two children, and we made what I thought was to by my last visit to my sister.
The disease finally took its toll and Lavice left her earthly body on February 16, 1963, shortly after her forty-first birthday. He remains were returned to Missouri for burial. The weather in Missouri had been balmy and warm until the day of Lavice’s funeral.
That day the temperature dropped to forty degrees. The flowers froze the instant they were placed around her grave, and I was beside myself with grief, agonizing inwardly because she was being placed in the hard, cold ground. It seemed so unfair that she had only those brief forty-one year on this earth.
The family members returned to our parent’s home and we sat reminiscing quietly until late that night
I had been asleep for maybe two hours when, suddenly, I found myself wide awake. I heard the front door quietly open and close. This seemed strange because no one else was up and the door had been dead-bolted from the inside. Then I once again felt that bone-chilling coldness I had felt at the cemetery.
My heart began to pound and I broke into a cold sweat. Softly but distinctly I could hear a steady football coming to my bedroom. As the footsteps approached nearer and nearer, I lay literally paralyzed with fear. Then I saw her in the doorway. It was my sister! She was wearing the same dress she’d been buried in and she was looking at me and smiling.
Slowly, she approached my bed and looked down at me. She leaned over and placed her hands on the covers at my shoulders. I could feel the icy cold of her touch. She kissed me softly on each cheek and said, “I just came to say goodbye. Don’t be afraid. I’m not taking you with me. I will be so happy when you can come and be with me. Always remember that I love you.”
Then she straightened up, turned around, and quietly walked out, leaving by the same door she had used when she entered.
The next morning I got up before the rest of the family and hurried to the front door. It was still dead-bolted from the inside. No one could possibly have entered the house that way the night before.
I didn’t share this experience with anyone for several years. I even convinced myself that it was just a dream When finally told Dad about the strange occurrence, saying that I thought it must have been a dream, I saw that this eyes misted over. “No, it was no dream. I heard the door and the footsteps, too, but I couldn’t get out of bed. It was as if I was tied down. But I’m not at all surprised that she went to see you. She loved you more than anybody else in this world, and if she could say goodbye to any of us, it would have been to you.”
Through the years I’ve never felt totally alone because I can still hear her soft voice telling me that she will be so happy when I can come and be with her.