In the midst of losing my oldest sister and mourning her too-early passing, I found joy. One special moment, especially, in the midst of my sorrow made me smile. And it happened because of my brother Scott.
A year ago, I was calling a hospital nearly daily to talk with Scott, who had broken his neck, suffered multiple surgeries, and seemed to be living on borrowed time. Miraculously, he survived a broken neck and four surgeries to correct it while my sister succumbed to a flesh wound. (That’s the short story on Cyndi who died in November.)
My brother has been stalking me. In a nice, positive, blog-following way. And so he happened to read my post in which I discussed my new perspective on the last complete family photo my siblings and I would ever take. Yes, I’m the tallest of our seven-person clan. Yes, I’ve been likened to an Amazon woman (for my shopping habits, that’s all). And, yes, I have made the mistake of positioning myself on the edge of our family photos, which only served to emphasize my largeness.
See what I mean?
Since my change of perspective, the photo capturing my Amazon woman likeness has graced my desk at home, and I am so thankful to have it (although I still wish the photographer had made my sister Cyndi bigger than life rather than me!)
Since we took that family photo, two of the seven have passed. My sister and my father are together in heaven. My mother, who has Alzheimer’s, is simply in no condition for such a photo shoot. I knew our next family photo would be a much smaller grouping (and I hoped I would appear smaller too).
In December, my siblings and I took that photo at the “celebration of life” that my nieces and nephews hosted in lieu of a funeral for my sister. We arrived in ugly Christmas sweaters because Christmas was Cyndi’s favorite holiday, and she would have liked to see us so bedecked (and would have been so dressed herself).
The weather was hot for Dec. 4; 85 degrees the high. Wearing a sweater was a sacrifice. Driving the multiple hours to and from the event was a sacrifice. Being there was a blessing. The celebration had no agenda, no speeches, just a small display table with photos and some of Cyndi’s favorite things. My sister’s real favorite things, her family and friends, milled about, offering condolences, remembering, reacquainting with each other.
My three remaining siblings were there with me: The now oldest, Jack; my brother Scott, who is still recovering from a broken neck; and my closest sister, Trish. And so we gathered in front of the Christmas tree to shoot a photo. Without thinking, I positioned myself on the end, as usual.
“No-o-o,” my brother Scott intervened with one word.
“Remember?” he said to me, pointedly, “Perspective.”
He then moved to my right so that I was in the middle, not on the end.
“Let me look larger than life,” Scott said.
I smiled. We all did. It was a photo shoot, so smiles were required. But these smiles came from the inside. Despite the sorrow for which we gathered, the missing we all so keenly felt. For the moment, we were four. Happy to be together. Silly. Fully alive and feeling photogenic. Because, for once, I wasn’t towering over my siblings, thanks to Scott.
We took a series of shots, but this was my favorite (look below!):
In addition to our smiles, check out our legs. I’m bending my knees, Trish is standing on tip-toes, and for once in my adult life with my siblings, I am not the tallest. It was most definitely a special moment that made me smile, despite the sorrow.
Thank you, Scott. 🙂
A nice perspective, smiles from the heart, and a photo to capture the moment.
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