My pen and paper have always been my faithful friends, there to see me through times of joy or sorrow. Like a magic wand, they unlock my innermost thoughts and allow words to pour forth from my very soul. I read those words, contemplate them, dissect them, and thus manage a myriad of emotions that shape my being. Three years ago, however, my pen and paper failed me; for it was then I faced a reality unlike any before—the death of a sibling.
Our family circle, strong and solid, held five children together through many years and many circumstances, good and bad. Then came the sad day when our oldest sister, after having fought so hard to stay with us, lost her battle and had to leave. The circle was broken, and so were we.
I grieved the best I could, hoping to fill the void with sweet memories; but the hole in my heart remained, and the emptiness gnawed at my soul. My acceptance of her leaving was not complete. She frequently visited my thoughts, and I often saw her face in my dreams.
In previous times of grief, I had always (with no forethought) turned to my writing for solace. This time, however, my pen lay unused. Why? I wondered; but I found no answer. My paper remained blank, void of feelings buried deep in my psyche.
What determines when or why a heart opens to allow grief to be comforted, I cannot say. I only know that recently, as I sat at my dining table in far-away thought, I picked up my ever-present pen and paper and wrote the following line: “She took the song out of our hearts and carried it up to heaven with her.” And just like that, my old friends returned, failing me no more. The key clicked, and my heart unlocked. The flood-gates opened; and from my pen flowed the following tribute to our dear Frances, who left our circle far too soon:
Sing with the Angels
She took the song out of our hearts
and carried it up to heaven with her—
the oldest sister, lovely and fair
with eyes so blue and golden hair,
a smile that brightened the room,
and laughter, easy and free!
The cares of life she chose to bear
alone, not asking for a hand
to lighten her load—just a list’ning ear
when she wearily fell to her knees.
Still she arose, brushed off the hurt,
picked up her blessings, and trudged on.
Her heart was tender, her faith strong,
her resolve unequaled! But her
body weakened from the daily grind
of work and worry, ‘til it crumbled,
little by little, and descended into
the dark depths of sickness and pain.
I watched her wither away and die
never knowing how much she was loved.
I think she would scoff to see these
words upon this page that proclaim
her death to have sucked the joy out of
our lives and the song out of our hearts.
How we miss her beautiful smile! And
yet there’s one single truth to which
we cling—that death exchanged her pain
for eternal peace and sweet rest.
So sing, dear Sister, sing our song!
Sing it with the angels forevermore!
Linda Garrett Hicks – 2015