As I am sitting in my office this morning, I cannot help but think of so many different memories that I have of my twin sister, Denise, who went to heaven a few short weeks ago. She is greatly missed by my family, her friends and by me. At times my heart is so heavy with sadness that it seems that I am unable to think about what is going on around me. Overwhelming sadness has infiltrated my life as never before and, quite frankly, I am having a tough time dealing with it. This is the reason that I write my perspective on this blog. It helps me to be able to get these thoughts out of my system–or so it seems.
Denise and I were close to one another. We were in contact with each other often. This morning, when I awoke, I thought about calling her today just to check up on her. Then the harsh reality hit me: she’s gone; she’s not here any longer. We had her cell phone disconnected shortly after she passed away. I will never hear her voice again while I am here on this terrestrial ball. If only I had a voicemail from her on my cell phone I could replay it over and over again, but I did not save any of the messages that she would leave for me.
I am thankful that her two Cocker Spaniels are well cared for. She loved her two dogs. She would want them to be well cared for. It was hard to give them away knowing that they would not be with her any longer. They are doing well in San Antonio now with a loving family who are friends with Denise and me.
The grieving process is hard. I rejoice knowing that Denise is well, that she is made whole in heaven, but her absence is difficult. This past year she struggled with her health due to the cancer she was fighting against. She is a tough woman–one of the toughest that I have ever seen. She would be so sick from the chemotherapy that she could not eat without vomiting or having the runs. She was miserable but at the same time she was comforting those who were around her. She was concerned not with herself but with my family, her friends and me. She would even voice her concern to me for those who love and know her best. I told her that I would be alright if she went home to heaven.
In some of our talks over the last year, she would share with me some of her memories of our childhood. There are things that I did not remember until she brought them up in the course of our conversations. Did you know that she still has shoes from high school that she was able to wear? She took such good care of her clothes and shoes. Her closet has a section full of different purses that she collected. There are boxes of shoes, and the clothes–there are so many clothes that she had. This is the reason that it appeared to me that she did not wear the same clothes twice! Her scarves are all beautiful. I brought her a scarf from Israel and she loved it.
On or around our birthday, October 8th, I would go to her school where she was teaching and would spend an afternoon with her and her second grade students. I would sit in her “reading rocking chair” and read to her students. Then I would sit in amazement as Ms. Yambra would take her time with so much patience to teach her students. They would hang on her every word just as I would. She is one of the most creative teachers that I have ever seen. She knew just how to handle the different personalities in her classroom. Other teachers were always excited to meet Denise’s twin brother. They were some of her closest friends, the second grade teachers. They would praise her as she would introduce me to them, and with good reason. She helped others with her experience. She would give some of her teaching aids to others in order that they might teach even better than herself.
A few days before Denise passed away, she had received three boxes with her personal effects from her classroom. She sat there and stared at the boxes and said, “Twenty-five year career in three boxes.” Oh, how that broke my heart. All of us reassured her that her teaching career was not wrapped up in those three boxes but rather her career and influence was with over 500 second grade students that she taught. Her students are in the military, politics, medicine, law, manufacturing, etc. Her influence was great. Many of her former students would send her invitations to their high school and college or university graduations. This is her twenty-five year career. At her “Celebration of Life,” a fourth grader came up to me and wanted to reintroduce herself to me. I remember her from two years ago when I read to her and her classmates around Denise’s and my birthday. She loved Ms. Yambra and she wanted to let me know that she was loved. Her father said that his daughter had cried and cried when she heard that Ms. Yambra had passed away. That little girl gave me a hug. I just thought to myself, I bet she gave that same hug to Denise.
Denise tried her very best to comfort those who were around her in her final days here. She did a great job of bringing smiles and laughter to us. She never lost her sense of humor, that is for sure. She was walking from the restroom to her recliner in her living room using a walker to help keep herself steady. Once she came into the living room, she started to dance with that walker as she made her way to her chair. The last day that I saw her, she looked as if she was asleep, I told her that I loved her very much and I am so proud to call her my twin and friend. She cranked out a smile even though she was unable to open her eyes. She moaned. Inside my own heart and mind I moaned knowing that she would leave soon after I left. It was that night, June 27, 2014, at 10:07 p.m. when she breathed her last breath here and breathed her first fresh breath of heaven. I missed that transition by one minute as I showed up at her house at 10:08 p.m. I put my ear to her heart to hear her heartbeat. It was gone. She was done with her work her. She completed all that she needed to complete.
As I am grieving right now, it seems that there is nothing but this one thing that is going through my mind:
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)
It’s going to take some time, but I will be alright. Denise would have it no other way.