This piece evolved over winter 2012/13 as my sister, Catherine, progressed through her final rounds of chemotherapy/radiotherapy/hospice care before her death, as winter ended, February 28th. She never quite made it through to spring and to her 53rd birthday. I offer no apology for my response, below, other than to say we usually say too little in too many words.
Reflections & Shadows
I write in the dusk of a bitter winter
as I recall our childhood years,
now, as we embrace our half century,
you at its beginning, me
reaching towards my 60th, a family record.
How do you embrace your sister’s
sharp struggle for life
as each faculty, ingrained with
experience and habit, deteriorates.
I wait, incapable of emotion,
drained by sadness and years
We talk of small domestic incidents,
you narrate a litany of exotic pharmacopeia,
of doctors searching for a needle in a haystack,
nurses who reliably find the vein.
What dies with you?
Memories of awkward conversations,
of things we did not share.
You’re the sister I’m said to most resemble.
I do not hear myself, but our mother
in the cadence of your voice.