As She Grows
6″x8″ mixed media painting on wood. The sides are 1.5″ and are painted red.
This painting is available HERE.
When I was eight, my sister, Lisa, died. She was three years younger than me, just like Scarlett is to Imogen. The difference is that my sister was born severely brain-damaged. My family mourned for those five years while this tiny little thing suffered through full body casts, seizures and pneumonia. To say that her death was a blessing sounds cruel and really, too simple. The death of your daughter or sister can never really be considered a blessing. The idea that it even could be, illustrates how unbelievably hard and painful her life must have been. To think about her continuing down that difficult and unrelenting path into her adulthood was almost unbearable. I know my mother went down that path, often, and I can imagine that those thoughts must have been very tiring and terrifying. Of course, I didn’t think of these things as a child. All I thought about was that my sister was gone. Miraculously, two days before she died, my mom gave birth to a new baby, another daughter. I felt like I had traded one sister for another and I felt guilty about this because even as a baby, this sister, was significantly different. This sister could be held, carried and cuddled. In the morning I would sneak into my parents room and steal this sleeping baby from her cradle. She was a living doll. My mother never stopped me or disciplined me for this. Perhaps she realized that this was my healing process. Holding this perfect new life in my arms helped me forget the pain of the loss of Lisa. Or maybe, my mother was so deep in mourning, so tired from all of the pain and anguish that she had suffered over the past five years, she didn’t have it in her to worry about any of this. I don’t know, as a mother of two daughters, I can not even imagine .
It never ceases to amaze me how the present can make us remember the past. To relive that time with the new perspective that only time can give us. Thanks, Dad, for reminding me of this time and the similarities of my girls right now and of course,undeniably, the differences. I have often thought about how it would have been if Lisa had been ‘normal’. If she hadn’t been born with such insurmountable hurdles. She was the length of a five-year when she died, but she was like an infant, unable to even raise her head. My mother carried her around on her hip, as you would a small babe, for those five years. She was so beautiful. Her hair was honey brown and she had big beautiful chocolate brown eyes. Her skin, like peaches and cream. She truly was an angel. She was pure innocence. When ever I think of her, I think of a tiny fawn.
Lisa would have been forty this year and today, that baby that helped us all get through that difficult time, turns 35. Happy Birthday, Emma, your timing was truly a perfect example of when a door closes, a window does indeed open.