Sister, Goodbye

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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.

Bonds Ridings

Burbank, California

May 1983

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