Friday, October 11, 2013

Soaring With Eagles

 




     Whenever I see a drawing of a bird, I think of my sister. Cherie had a fascination with birds and an encyclopedic knowledge of every species. She worked at a wildlife center and fostered the injured birds, but she had a particular fondness for the birds of prey. She took beautiful photographs of hawks, eagles and owls, and sketched them every chance that she had.  Her artistic skills were impressive, and whenever I studied her drawings, I felt more than her admiration for these birds; I saw a desire to share their fierceness, beauty, strength and freedom.

     Like a phantom limb, I still feel her presence here and an ache deep in my soul, hollowing me from the inside out.  When I close my eyes, I see her standing at the top of Beartooth Pass in Montana. She waits beside a meadow patchy with snow, a camera dangling from her hand as she gazes up at a cloudless sky in search of eagles. She turns to me, grins and aims the camera. I try to smile but my eyes burn from the snow's glare. The light is blinding.  My breath is shallow in the thin air, as if I am breathing in broken glass.

     Her ashes now drift across that meadow. I remember smoothing the white hospital sheets that covered her still form and thinking of that snow.

     I see her now in the hazy dreams of midnight where hundreds of
photographs fan across the years, breathing life into memories of her that still linger here:  horseback riding through the rugged mountains of Wyoming;  tears shimmering in her eyes at the Wagner Opera;

laughing with the sweet juice of bing cherries on our lips at the Pike's Place Public Market in Seattle; her radiant grin the first time I saw her holding her newborn son; the quiet reverence we shared in the butterfly garden when hummingbirds hovered above us; jumping in puddles up to our knees and knowing how silly we looked---two young women dancing  in muddy water while a storm raged around us. So many nights when I was young, she'd steal me from sleep for a drive along the beach. I curled beside her and watched the stars race past our window like silver glitter scattering across a black velvet sky. I had always thought she was racing against the moon. And I never knew why.


     My sister had an eating disorder. She was killing herself slowly, and I didn't know how to stop her. No one did. She wore her loneliness and disappointment like a heavy winter cloak, and I stood by helpless as the light in her bright hazel eyes dimmed to gray. A storm was raging inside, but she was no longer dancing in its rain. Something had broken inside her, leaving her heart cracked in too many places. She became like the wounded birds she once cared for.

Photo courtesy of: Jon Whiting

     When the call came, I raced down darkened streets, saw the moon spin past my windshield and wondered if she remembered its pale, yellow face peering above the ocean's rim so long ago.
     Cherie was already in the deep sleep of a coma when I arrived at the hospital. I touched her cool hand and felt her standing at the foot of the mountain. Monitors then screamed their flatline goodbye and I knew she had already taken flight like the eagles.

Photo courtesy of: Jon Whiting

     I drifted for hours, suspended between anger and guilt. The tiles on the hospital floor were cold against my cheek like snow; like the brisk air that had stung my face on the top of Beartooth Pass where I knew she had gone.


     I never said I was sorry. I stood at her funeral and delivered a eulogy to a crowd that needed to hear that she lived a beautiful and graceful life. And I was a hypocrite because I knew far better than that. She had been dying inside for years, and no one could save her.

     An autopsy report claimed that my sister died from pneumonia with a heart three times its normal size. Obesity does that. I prefer to think her heart was large because she loved so much.
     What I never said, never shared, was that morning after she died, a Red-Tailed hawk circled my yard and settled in the pine branches above me. I looked into his dark, unwavering gaze and saw my sister watching over me.

     Her ashes, now swirling over a snowy mountain top in Montana, will never settle. They'll twist inside my grieving heart until I feel the last breath of winter.


In Memory of Cheryl Sue Kester:  February 7, 1953 --- October 31, 2009





     *Portions of Soaring With Eagles have appeared on my guest post for mjrockbottom.blogspot.com under the title, "Flying With Eagles."
     

152 comments:

  1. So sorry for your loss, and I can't imagine losing a sibling because all of mine are still living. I think we need more mental health clinics to treat this and other mental conditions. With some obese people, it's not all about the diet but their mental state.

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    1. You are absolutely correct. They cannot heal until they work from the inside out.

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  2. Beautiful post Marcia. I've read about your sister before and I know how much grief you have there. I can't imagine losing one of my siblings. My heart and prayers go out to you today as I'm sure you'll have her on your mind today. You are loved. <3

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    1. I knew you would remember these thoughts. I think of her every day. Jon's beautiful photograghs add so much to this post as well.

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  3. What a beautiful tribute to your sister. Im so sorry for your loss.

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  4. Oh Marcia, that was beautiful and heart-wrenching. I hope you continue to see your sister in flight, smiling down on you.

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    1. Oh Teri, what a beautiful thought! Thank you for saying this to me! XO

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  5. There is no denying that life is harder for some. More talent, more creativity, more love to give, more everything seems to also be part of their existence. It's as if they must live louder to get it all in.
    Big hugs and kudos for this beautiful tribute.

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    1. So true, Jo. She was incredibly talented and it just makes me so sad that her talent was lost.

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  6. Such a beautiful post <3 thank you for sharing yours and your sisters story.

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  7. That was so incredibly sad and so hallowingly beautiful at the same time. You are such a kind and genuine person Marcia and your family means the absolute world to you. I'm so sorry for your loss. Sisters are very special and you are so lucky you had each other, even if it wasn't quite long enough :( We can only do so much for the ones we love. Once again I'm crying after reading your blog. Much love, Josie B xxxx

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    1. Awwww...I don't want you to cry. I appreciate your kind words though---so sweet of you to say. Next week I promise to bring back the funny!

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  8. What a beautiful post and tribute to you sister! So sorry for your loss~

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    1. Thank you, Lisa. It needed to be written.

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  9. A post full of love--beautiful. And you know, red tailed hawks have been messengers for many people I know, they're mystical creatures. My heart goes out to you...sending warm, healing light.
    Carol
    www.carolcassara.com

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    1. Isn;t that interesting? After i wrote this, I did a little research and was startled to find out that Red-Tail Hawks are a symbol of loved ones who have passed on--they send the birds as a message to let us know their spirit is fine. Wow.

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  10. So lovely. A wonderful tribute to your sister! I just want to come over there and give you a great big hug! If I start walking now, I should be there by this time next year, right?

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  11. Marcia, I can only imagine how painful that must have been to write, but it was beautiful. I'm sorry for all of your sister's pain, and for yours as you cope with her loss.

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    1. Thank you. Dana. It was hard to write but I felt a strong pull to do it. Very cleansing.

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  12. This was incredible. So vividly and painfully beautiful in every way. Your soul and hers- painted in a passionate and powerful picture here. Thank you for sharing this part of you. Blessed by your words, my friend.

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    1. Awwww...Chris, thank you for your kind words! XO

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  13. My heart breaks for you, Marcia as I can see how close you were to your sister. How tragic to lose her that way. Amazing story about that hawk you saw and the connection to your sister. Powerful and moving and touching all at the same time. You will never forget her. Thanks for sharing your story with us. I'm sure it was hard to write but therapeutic at the same time as this kind of writing always is.

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    1. I ALWAYS think of her whenever I see birds of prey. Always. But in a way it's very comforting. And yes, writing this was therapeutic. I needed to do it.

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  14. Hard to type for the tears. I can only imagine your pain. What a beautiful sister! What a beautiful tribute! Thank you for sharing her tender, triumphant story with us.

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    1. I'm glad you liked it, Diane. She was my older sister and for years I idolized her. Still can't believe she is gone, and it's been four years.

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  15. Oh, Marcia. I don't have words for this. What a beautiful metaphor the birds, wounded and free, were for your sister. Without even realizing it, she became what she admired. I'm so sorry that no one was able to tend to her like she did her wild friends; some hearts just can't be mended. xo

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    1. Awwww...Stephanie, your beautiful words here are making me cry. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. XO

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  16. That was positively beautiful. I felt your pain, I felt the raw emotion pouring from your soul. When I see a bird of prey, I know this post will pop into my mind. Your sister is truly soaring with her beloved birds and is at peace. I just know she hears your apology and wants for you to know; it's okay. ♥

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    1. I think that would be lovely if you think of my sister whenever you see hawks and eagles. I do believe she is finally at peace in God's Kingdom with all the beautiful creatures she loved.

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  17. Marcia, I've been gone for such a long while. I'm so honored to have been able to read this. It resonated with my should. Your love for your sister is still palpable. I can't imagine your grief, but I hope that you find solace in your memories and comfort every time you see beautiful birds soaring over head. They're more than likely keeping watch over you. Love you.

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    1. I truly believe that they are. Thank you for the kind words, my beautiful friend. I love you, too, and I've missed you! XO

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  18. What a sad way for her to die, Marcia. Thank you for sharing your memories. What a lovely image you have to remember her by. She's at peace.....

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    1. It really was--her death was totally preventable. I keep wishing I could turn back the clock and stop her destructive behavior. It haunts me still.

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  19. This post broke my heart, so eloquently and heart wrenchingly written.

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    1. Thank you, Karen. I knew you would understand. <3

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  20. This is a beautiful post, Marcia. I am so sorry to hear what she {and you for that matter} had to go through. I did not know your sister, but I most certainly know the feeling of "letting go", knowing you are on a downhill road but there is no one, not even your loving kids, who can help you. It is not a "want to",but more of a "no way out". I am sure she is watching over you, just as I am sure she read and approved of your post today.

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    1. Yes---depression is just like that. She lost her will to fight it and succumbed to it instead.

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  21. Crying for you and sending ginormous HUGS!!!!
    This was a beautiful tribute to your sister.

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    1. Thank you so much--I'll gladly take those hugs. XO

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  22. What absolutely wonderful memories you have of sharing the good times with her, Marcia - such joy in the jumping in puddles and having fun together. I'm so glad that red kite came to visit you. That feels 'on purpose'. Thank you so much for sharing your sister with us so honestly, and with such candidness. It's an honour to read about her and how deeply your sister-love runs.

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    1. She was so special to me--my oldest sister. I prefer to remember the times when she was young instead of when she became so unhappy. I miss her every day.

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    2. Of course you do, and that will never stop - I don't think it's meant to. We miss our lost loved ones forever precisely because they are so loved by us. Remembering her young and vibrant, before the Depression took her over, is wise. That was her true self.

      Depression, The Saboteur, changes people - it takes them over in the most ugly way and turns logic inside out. And I know too well the frustrated, heartbreaking impotence of being on the sidelines and watching it happen and knowing that nothing you can do will help. It's awful. And it's truly a one-person battle. An unfair one, at that, because the lies and the cheating make the person feel they can't fight, just when they need to most.

      Sorry. I'll get off my soapbox. But I understand you. Keep remembering her.

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    3. Oh, Lizzi, something tells me you know this so well from experience. Everything you say here rings true. Thank you for sharing your heart with me---it means more to me than I can say.XO

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    4. I'm afraid so. Husby has it, and though we're winning at the moment, there have been some very scary moments, and I suspect there will be more in future *sigh*. I've known it in close family members, and (a decade ago) in myself. I hate that I know, but glad that the sharing helped, because really what I want to say is that you can't hang onto any guilt over this, or it will keep tearing you up inside. There is no guilt because it's that kind of a disease - there's nothing you could have done, and that's the true horror of it. *hugs*

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    5. My heart goes out to you. I am trying so hard to work through the guilt. It has plagued not only me but the rest of my family as well. But I am finding comfort in your words. I hate that you are dealing with the same issue....I wish there was a way to stop it, but deep down I know everything you are saying is true. We can't stop it. THEY can't stop unless they want to, and we can't force that on them. Thank you again for your kindness. XO

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    6. It's just one of those things - one of those crappy curve-balls that life throws sometimes. The important thing to hang onto is that we only have the right and ability to control our own behaviour. Which is tricky, because I often forget that The Saboteur is a factor, and respond nastily to it, catching Husby in the middle (as it were). But at the same time, the thing to keep trying is to Do Good - wherever and whenever possible. And have compassion, first on yourself, for whatever challenging things you take from it (guilt, frustration, hurt, anger) because all of those are utterly explainable reactions to the situation - and then for them, because underneath it all, they've been taken over, swamped by it and are stuck. So the things they say and do are not said and done in their true character.

      Not sure if I'm talking to you or me now. Perhaps both.

      But I look at the GOOD you're doing by sharing your story, your sister's story, and your perspective, and it reminds me that Good is still possible, even from the darkest things.

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    7. This goes for both of us. You express yourself so beautifully, Lizzi. I cherish everything you have said to me here. Thank you for giving me these words from your heart. <3

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  23. How heartbreaking. I'm so sorry for your loss. :(

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    1. Thank you for coming by to read it, Natalie.

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  24. What a beautifully raw and emotional post. I am so sorry about the loss of your sister and that your sister experienced so much pain in her life--yet her joy seems evident too. You wrote in previous blog posts about your past and I am always inspired by people who have overcome great odds to become an inspiration to others--that's you! Now you have the ability to educate and touch others about eating disorders--especially among our youth. I think it's always hard when you lose a sibling (I lost a twin brother--I am a twin, but he is the twin of my brother who's also a twin). It doesn't seem to fit in the natural order of life--it's supposed to be parents first (although I lost my mother at age 7 and that wasn't exactly the "natural order of life" either). Thank you for sharing such a personal story. It touched my heart--the writing, but more importantly, the emotions behind it are so authentically beautiful and touching. Wishing you all the best...

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    1. Oh Nicole, You certainly have seen your share of loss! I am so sorry you went through so much! And the twin thing---WOW. I had twins and one passed away shortly after birth. I blogged about it here in March (you can find it under the title, The Box). Twin loss is a very unique type of grief and VERY difficult to handle. I feel for you. Thank you so much for coming by and sharing with me today, XO

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  25. This was gut-wrenching and had me tearing up. I didn't know your sister, but wow, I wish I did! She seemed to have been a really beautiful person! What a joy to have had her in your life. Thank you for sharing this with us. Hugs Marcia.

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    1. Thank you, Donna. She was a very special, talented lady and I miss her every day.

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  26. This is a beautiful tribute to your sister. I cannot pretend to imagine the loss you feel, I'm sorry you have to experience it at all. Thank you for being brave enough to write this, it honors her and it honors you because you allowed yourself to tell the truth. Thank you.

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    1. It is one of those things that hurts too much to talk about, but once I do, I feel so much better just getting it out there. Thank you for coming by to read about my beautiful sister.

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  27. Dear Marcia, I loved reading this. Crying for you and Cheryl. Has the red-tailed hawk ever returned to your garden? How do you feel about Halloween on her Angelversary?
    Nice meeting you as a secret subject swap sister! Take care.

    PS: thanks for the heads-up regarding the link, I added a couple of w's.

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    1. I'm so happy to meet you. too! Yes, I DO see the Red Tail Hawk--a few times a week now! Such a beautiful bird, too. I always think of her. Halloween--I use to be a big fan but not so much now. Ironically, my sister hated that day.. I can't believe she died on it.

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  28. Beautiful, touching and incredibly special. Thank you for sharing this story for those who have lost a sibling and those who will.

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    1. Thanks, Nicki--glad you liked it. I appreciate you stopping by.

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  29. A beautiful and loving tribute. I am so sorry for your loss. :-(

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    1. Thank you Darla for coming by to read it today.

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  30. Oh Marcia - your words are so powerful and raw and honest - and I can't think of a better way to honor someone's life than being honest about who they were -
    Tortured hearts ARE usually the biggest..............
    So sorry for your loss - but you have some beautiful memories mingled in with the sad - hope you're able to hold on to them forever
    Much love
    Suzan

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    1. I always will. Thanks, Suzan, for the kind words.

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  31. I am so sorry for both of you. What a loss and what pain. How much guilt I would feel to not be able to help. So sorry.

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    1. Thank you, Sandra. That is exactly how I feel. I wish I could have stopped it.

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  32. Lovely post Marcia, having lost people close to me when I was young I appreciate how you must have felt.

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    1. Thank you, Dale. I knew you could relate to this. XO

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  33. This is an achingly gorgeous tribute to your sister Marcia. Beautiful words and imagery. I know that your sister must be swirling around you feeling the love you have for her and radiating hers right back to you. Much love and peace to you, my friend. xoxo

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    1. I feel her presence often, it's true. I hope she knows how much I loved her and miss her. Thank you for your kind words, Linda. XO

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  34. I can't stop crying and my heart aches for you.. I am so very, very sorry.. For your loss and hers.. Hugs, hugs, hugs to you.. And in ways you may never know, this post changed my life in THIS instant.

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    1. That is so beautiful---thank you for sharing it with me. XO

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  35. This makes me want to get into my car and drive to Georgia and hug my sister tight. She is a mother now too and a wonderful artist. She did my header for Mary-andering Among the Pages. She likes art and cats. But she draws birds too. She has a picture up on her blog now. I am so sorry for your loss. I wouldn't know what to do if I lost my sister or my mother. They are golden presents to me: gifts from God. I know now we should never take those gifts for granted.
    http://rventrello.wordpress.com

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    1. Hold them close, Mary. Your family is your gift. <3

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  36. Marcia,
    So so sad. I'm so very sorry for your loss. Please try and let go of the guilt. I promise you that there's nothing you could have said to her to help her overcome her eating disorder. Hugs to you friend. Your sharing of her story here was beautiful and brave.

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    1. The guilt is the hardest part---we al feel it in my family; we all wish we could have done something about it. But you are right--in the end, it was ultimately her decision.

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  37. This is beautfully written. What a tribute to your sister.

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    1. Thank you. This was the only thing I knew to do to honor her.

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  38. This is by far one of the most touching posts I've ever read, Marcia! So beautifully written. As I sit here with tears streaming down my face, I can't help but think of my own sister. We've drifted over the years, when we were once so close. I think it's time to heal to some old wounds. Thank you for this. You're an amazing woman!

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    1. Oh Crystal, that is so sweet of you to say! PLEASE call your sister---share this with her if you want but please make amends before it's too late!

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  39. I lost my brother last year about this time. Like your sister, he never truly found his place in this world. His method was different (alcohol vs. food), but the results were the same. He now rests in the Denali snowpack that he ran away to. All we can hope is they have found their peace.

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    1. Oh Christopher, that is so sad. I am sorry for your loss as well. Yes, I pray they have found peace now.

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  40. Beautiful and heart wrenching, Marcia. I'm so very sorry for your loss.

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    1. Thank you, Leslie. I appreciate you stopping by and sharing the kind words.

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  41. Although I read this before Marcia... it brought tears to my eyes again... I can feel the love you have for your sister in each word... It makes me think I need to reconnect with my sisters more, it isn't like we have all the time in the world... it is so short... Amazing post as always and you know I am so sorry for your loss :-/

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    1. Please do reconnect with your sisters if you can. Time is short the older we get. You just never know how fast until they're gone.

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  42. That was a heartbreaking story, beautifully told. I'm so sorry for your loss, but I know that she IS watching over you and by sending the birds she loved so much, she's letting you know she's there.

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    1. I LOVE thinking that way and I pray it is true. Thank you for sharing that with me, Theresa!

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  43. what a loving post. The love you have for so many people Marcia. I am so sorry for your loss. Amazing post and thank you for sharing.

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    1. I loved her dearly and not a day goes by that I don't think of her. Thank you for the kind words.

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  44. Read it, came back, left, came back, left and here I am again. This is the one situation about life, that I have no words for... Something very personal of mine, but you have poured your heart out and shared so much with me, I will share this with you, I suffer of tatanophobia... Not only am I scared of death, but the thought of losing someone I love dearly, absolutely terrifies me and haunts me around every single day! So you see, I don't know what to say... As I read tears ran down my face... I just think it's not fair that we have to lose and be lost!

    So, I'm not sure if words make it any better, but yes, I am truly sorry that you had to go through this experience and I felt your pain in my heart with each word you wrote...

    Thanks for being so brave and sharing this story with us.

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    1. Thank you for reading it--I know how difficult this must have been for you and I truly appreciate the nice things you have said here.

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  45. correction * thanatophobia ~> I even wrote it wrong! sorry about that.

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  46. Beautiful...truly beautiful. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss, but I'm sure you sister is very proud of you and the person you've become. Thanks so much for sharing a little piece of your soul with us my friend.

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    1. I hope she is proud of me--she always wanted me to be a writer. It's one of the reasons I started the blog after she died.

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  47. Oh Marcia, what a beautiful tribute to your sister. This must have been so difficult to write. She sounds like quite an amazing person. It's so interesting that you said that about the red tailed hawk. Today there was a vulture in my yard...a huge bird...and he let me come quite close to him to take his picture. He looked at me quizzically, like he was not quite a bird...it was unnerving in a way. It's hard to explain. But I felt like there was something else there. Hugs to you Marcia!

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    1. That's an interesting story, Michelle. I still see the hawk about once a week in my yard, after all these years. I'm fascinated by the birds of prey now, just like my sister.

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  48. What a touching post MM and I'm so sorry that you lost your beloved sister in this way. I can hear the grief through this post but I hope that some of the burden was lifted as you wrote about her and thought about the wonderful memories you shared together especially in regards to her fondness for birds of prey. Beautiful memories always last a lifetime.

    We don't hear much nowadays about eating disorders and when we do, it's usually just about very young teenagers. More needs to be done on educating everyone on how this actually affects people and the warning signs including how to seek help and/or support etc. This illness has no discretion. Men and women are humbled by it.

    Thank you for sharing your heart with us. It's a brave thing to do and my thoughts are with you and your family today.

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    1. I do feel that more needs to needs to be done about eating disorders. So many of us are afflicted with it. The important thing is recognizing it and dealing with it first from the inside out. Thanks for reading this, RPD. I do have some beautiful memories of my sister along with the sad. Right now I am still trying to find the acceptance and peace that I need.

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  49. Oh, Marcia...What a beautiful, honest, and breathtaking tribute to your sister. I know that she can read it, Marcia, and how proud she is of you. Not only was this touching, but your descriptions and metaphors to show how you think of her on a daily basis and how much of life she enjoyed with you...WOW. Just beautiful.

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    1. Thank you, Shay. My deepest hope is that she knew how much I loved her, even though sometimes I didn't always show it.

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  50. Marcia - what a tribute to your sister and the love you have for her. She is soaring for sure - and so very proud of you.

    My deepest apologies for not having the link up correctly to this sooner....

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    1. No problem---just happy to see you here. I like what you said--that she is soaring. Thank you for that. <3

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  51. Wow, this is beautiful, Marcia. I'm so sorry for your loss. Your sister sounds like she was a wonderful and beautiful woman.

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    1. She certainly was. Thank you for stopping by, Kate.

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  52. Awww Marsha I'm so sorry to hear about this. Although almost 4 years have passed I'm sure you feel Cheryl's loss every day. My Love has an affinity for birds of prey like your sister did. Here's a link about the Red Tailed Hawk that I think you will appreciate. Gentle hugs to you xxx
    Barbara @ www.allmylivesnow.com
    http://consciousartstudios.blogspot.com/2012/08/red-tailed-hawk-his-spirit-and-symbolic.html

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    1. This is so cool! Thank you Barbara for sharing the link--I'm going to check it out now!

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  53. What a beautiful way to know your sister. I love that she loved so much and you are always proud of her.

    ¤´¨)
    ¸.•*´
    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo
    Raising-Reagan.com

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    1. I always will be. Just hoping I have made her proud of her little sister.

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  54. What a beautifully written, heartfelt, loving post this was and what a perfect way to address the prompt. Through the story, the photos and illustration I am left with a very strong sense of your sister. Don't beat yourself up for saying "the wrong thing" at the funeral. It sounds like it was the right time for the eulogy you delivered.

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    1. Thank you, Katia. I'm glad this post is a window to who my sister was--a special woman and I miss her every day.

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  55. Honey, I am at a loss for words. Except I want to tell you that you have a talent, too. Hers may have been art. Yours is words. And with your words, these beautiful words that you so painstakingly bled onto your keyboard, you can remember her and share her with all of us so that no one ever forgets her.

    I love you. I'm here, ever you should need me. You know that.

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    1. Oh Starr, you got me teary eyed on this one. I KNEW you would understand how I feel. I love you so much---you have such a beautiful soul. Thank you for your kindness and friendship <3

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  56. Nice blog checkout my latest post at
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    1. Thanks Steve, but I am already a follower over there.

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  57. Wow... What a touching tribute to your Sister. Your Heartfelt Love Shines through this whole Post. Appreciate you sharing such a wonderful part of your life. Thanks, Slu

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    1. Thank you, Slu. I'm glad you liked the post. It was difficult to write but I needed to do it for her and for myself.

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  58. what a truthful and heartbreaking story...wow...wipes my tears away. What a tribute...I am so sorry for your loss...I can't imagine losing a loved one and not knowing how to save them.

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    1. Yes, it is a terrible, helpless feeling and it is hard not to feel guilty about the death...but in the end, the decision was hers to make, not ours. Still hurts though, all the same.

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  59. Marcia, this is very touching post. So sorry for your loss,I know how you feel, it reminds me when I lost my Dad, he was in the hospital for a month, even though I was prepared for the worst, It still came as a shock (because he was suppose to come home that day) when I got the news, I was at work then and it took me forever just to get to the hospital. Eleven years had already pass but the memory is still here in my heart.

    There were so many comments here that I kept on scrolling down with my mouse just to leave a message to you, hahaha! (i just want to make you laugh!) Thanks for sharing Marcia!

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    1. I know it' s hard to read posts on loss after losing a loved one--it brings it all back up again, doesn't it? I am so sorry you lost your father. I hope you have many good memories of him to hold close to your heart. And yes, you last comment did make me smile--thank you for that!

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  60. That was absolutely beautiful...beautifully sweet, beautifully sad, beautifully written.
    Sending you love.

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    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, Kim. I love seeing you here---that means a lot to me!

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  61. Hi Marcia! This post is wonderful in so many ways, it's beautiful... And tragic. It always pleases me to hear you speak of your sister. It is obvious how much you loved her by the way you revel in the memories you have of her. Her art work is amazing and the family pictures are wonderful, I'm honored to have my own pictures included in this story. Mostly though, I like to hear you speak of your sister because I know how much it grieves you, and speaking of it begins the healing. Letting those feelings go and sharing them with the world, releases those feelings feeling of guilt and pain that have been trapped in your heart, and leaves you in a place were you no longer have to deal with them on your own. My hope for you is that someday soon those feelings will dissipate completely leaving you nothing but those wonderful memories and a smile in a heart healed from the pain of loss. I applaud your courage and bravery in sharing this story with all of us. Thank-you. And as always, my very best wishes to you my friend.

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    1. Your photos are a big part of making this post beautiful and I am so grateful to you for letting me use them. Cherie's art was amazing--that's what makes this so tragic. She had so much talent, and she never did anything with it. She let it go and that is one of the things that hurts me so much. You are so right, Jon--talking about my sister, writing about her----it's all so very cathartic. I hope I can forgive myself completely and be free to just enjoy the memories we shared. I thank you again for sharing this with me---you have often given me the courage I need to write these difficult posts---you have been such a good friend and I appreciate that. XO

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  62. Very well written.. Thanks for sharing..
    http://fashionwithfitness.blogspot.com

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  63. I don't really have any beautiful words to share with you, but I wanted you to know that your words here were moving and beautiful and drew a picture of your love for your sister - I can see it perfectly before me and my heart aches for your loss.

    Much love, Cristyl

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    1. Oh Cristy, your words are beautiful to me. Thank you for sharing them!

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  64. What a deeply moving post. How terrible to lose someone you were so close to...and to such a needless, stupid eating disorder. There are many millions of ways for us to become broken and one doesn't always know how to fix it. So sorry for your loss, Marcia, but as you probably know by now birds are symbols of the recently passed on. A little bird entered my aunt's house just a short while after my uncle died, peered at her expectantly, and then flew off.

    I don't know what I'd do if I lost my little brother, but I know it would always leave a hole in my heart too.

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    1. Hold him close and cherish your time together....but something tells me you already do. XO

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  65. Wonderful tribute to your sister. So sorry for your loss. That must have been so hard to go through. I can sense it in your words here.

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    1. Hi Phil, thank you for stopping by. I have been through a lot of losses in my life, but this is the one that haunts me the most. It was senseless and preventable. And it will be a long time before I can shake off the sense of emptiness she left behind.

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  66. I tried to post a comment but I may have done it wrong, so I'll try again. If it appears twice I'm sorry!

    But I wanted to let you know how much this touched me. You wrote about your sister so beautifully but also let us in to your profound sadness. I know it must have been so incredibly frustrating to watch her suffer and feel powerless to help her…

    And I have no doubt that the Hawk was indeed her. I'm sure not everyone believes in that kind of thing, but when you've lost someone so dear, you feel these things happen and you just know it's them. I've had many of those moments with my brother. I've written about him a few times and each time I have felt his presence. The hair on the back of my neck stands up and I just feel him with me. One time, I was writing about him and really struggling and and (I listen to music when I write) six songs in a row came on that were "his songs," songs that he loved and that always remind me of him. We shared a love of music and by the third song I was laughing through my tears. I hope that you have more of those moments, of feeling her presence with you. I hope you find some comfort and some peace. I don't know if that's ever truly possible after losing someone you love so much, but it is still something I hope we all find at some point.

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    1. I got goose bumps reading that! What I've had happening here is pennies…..before I had ever heard of our loved ones who have passed on leaving coins for us to find (at odd times and in odd places) I kept finding pennies in strange places in my house---usually when I was in the midst of a crying jag. I am home alone a lot, so there is no one who could have left the pennies. I'll be at my desk, I leave the room for a minute, and when I return, there will be a penny right on top of my laptop. That sort of thing, when I'm home alone, tells me it IS her. She also loved to cook, and at least 4 times a week my dog stares into the kitchen and barks and growls like crazy--even though there is nothing there. I miss her so much and in an odd way, the pennies are comforting. I keep them in a special jar. There are hundreds of them now. Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and read my sister's story----that means a lot to me. Hopefully we both will find our peace.

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    2. I'm visiting this again today after seeing it on FB. I didn't get notification of your reply, but I want to respond now. The pennies… that is amazing. I've never heard of that. And you find them when you're upset, wow. Each member of my family has had something different that is clearly a "message" from my brother. And my Grandmother had similar experiences after losing my Grandfather. I would find the pennies incredibly comforting. The fact that she places them on your laptop? That makes me want to cry, it's as if she's telling you to keep at it, keep writing, follow your passion and find your voice. I would imagine that jar of pennies is one of your most prized possessions. I'm so sorry I didn't see this comment back in August, but I'm so glad I'm seeing it today and that you shared the pennies with me. I hope you find some comfort on this day.

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    3. Thank you, Gretchen. I appreciate that you came back again to read it. Yes, I'm still finding the pennies---especially when I am stressed out about something. I know it's my sister sending me love and encouragement. Sadly, it still hurts just as bad today as it did the day she died. Not sure I will ever be able to accept the loss. Thank you for your kind words. XO

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  67. This is beautiful Marcia. I am so sorry for your loss.

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  68. OH my friend... this - took my breath away. Your words are a testimony to the spirit of life and grief while living. Loss like this is something few can put into words, but you did. This is your gift. I am so sorry. So so sorry...

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  69. I'm not sure where to start, this is wonderful for so many reasons. I am so sorry for your loss, and so proud of you for sharing such a personal and painful story. You have such a gift, being able to write in a way that the reader is right there with you. I know we can't possibly feel your pain, but I hope that in sharing with us it helps you continue to heal. My heart is both heavy with your sadness and joyous that you had the time with her that you did.

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    1. You are so sweet, Phyllis! You have aways been so very kind and supportive to me and my writing---thank you from the bottom of my heart! XO

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  70. What a loving tribute to your sister. My eyes are filled with tears. She was so loved and you were such a special sister. We can't heal others. We can heal only ourselves. I hope the pain lessens with each year and that every time you remember your sister, you'll see her flying with the eagles, no longer in pain.

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    1. Thank you so much for these beautiful words of encouragement ,Theresa. XO

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  71. Marcia, your tribute to your sister Cherie is so beautiful! Clearly, you loved her very much. I am so very sorry for your loss, for your family’s loss. As soon as I read your first paragraph, I liked her right away! I am fascinated by birds and take many photos of them, but her extensive knowledge and fostering injured birds far exceeds anything I’ve done. I love her drawing of an eagle! How wonderfully you write about your memories of her, heartbreakingly beautiful! “She became like the wounded birds she once cared for,” reading about what happened to her moved me to tears.

    When I read that a red-tailed hawk circled your yard and settled in a tree the morning after she died, it gave me goose bumps, yes, she was there for you, there with her message of love. I love the photos of her. Your last line is so expressive; I can feel the deep ache within your heart and I truly understand. I am sure her gentle and beautiful spirit is near you even as you write about her. Thank you for sharing her with us. Big hugs! XO

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    1. Thank you for your beautiful words here, Madilyn. I'm so glad that you were moved by my tribute to Cherie. I miss her terribly, and not a day goes by that I don't ache to see her. Seeing the hawks always brings me a measure of comfort. You would have loved her---she was an artist and a bird lover, just like you! XO

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  72. --The last photo is utterly symbolic and stunning.
    My heart aches, understands, & I mourn with you, my darling, for such a GREAT loss. xxxxxx

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    1. Thank you, Kim. I know you understand the magnitude of this kind of loss.

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