I haven't written much about our monthly sister meetings since Sister #3, Andrea, died unexpectedly May, 2016. We have continued to get together each month since her passing but it hasn't been the same until recently.
I came up with the brilliant idea of getting together monthly with my five sisters and so I hosted our first sister meeting October, 1997. The idea was simple. Starting with the eldest each month we'd take turns hosting. Each sister picked her date and planned how she wanted to do things. Full course meals or simple snacks, totally up to the hostess. No pressure about attending, if you could you did and if not we'd see you the next month.
We've been doing this every month for twenty plus years.
Andrea's death affected us all deeply and changed the tone of our monthly sister meetings and also how we treat each other.
Before Andrea died our meetings were full of laughter, teasing, sarcasam, arguing and sometimes anger. No one censored anything that was said and believe me, plenty was said through out the years. We'd play card and dice games, for money of course, and since some of my sisters are very competetive, it could get down right nasty, especially when losing. It was fun, even when there was an argument because sometimes the sharp, angry words would end in laughter. No matter what, though, we never stayed angry with each other.
After Andrea died, our monthly sister meetings were very subdued. Sometimes I got the feeling we were walking on egg shells and tip- toeing around the fact that our lives had changed drastically. Our sister was dead.
That first year or so after Andrea's death we were together at our sister meetings but we weren't really there. I can't explain the difference, except to say it was lonely, it was sad, it was painful, it was just horribly different. We were each dealing with her death in our own way, quietly, personally, but not really sharing how we felt with each other. We were just going through the motions, grieving separately, not together. There was no teasing, no arguing, no games, no real life to our sister meetings. We had even discussed stopping our sister meetings because her absence was just so damn hard to accept.
I think we were afraid to be as we used to be with each other because we didn't want to do or say anything to hurt or offend someone.....just in case.
I'm glad we kept going.
Sister #2 hosted our December, 2017 sister meeting. She planned a small dinner and invited our spouses. While the men were gathered in the kitchen, we held our sister meeting in the living room. As in the past, we exchanged small Christmas gifts but what made this sister meeting special was that sister #4 participated without any prompting or chastising about her "humbug" attitude. She's not much on holidays and all the hoopla but she planned for this one. Sitting around the Christmas tree we talked and opened our gifts to each other.
Sister #4's gift to each of us was a necklace. A small silver heart that held some of Andrea's ashes and an angel wing. Finally, more than a year and a half later, we cried together, as sisters, acknowledging what we had lost, seeing what we still had, and accepting that it was going to be okay.
January, 2018 was sister #4's month but she decided to cancel because, as she said, "she wasn't up for it". December didn't bring a miracle healing, there were and still are good and bad days. We all understood but we also knew she was hurting and needed our support.
Sister #5 contacted everyone and said she was bringing donuts, meet at Sister #4's home for coffee early on a Saturday morning. Given Sister #4's temperment, however, there was some trepidation as to how she'd react. Sister #5 and I discussed it and we both agreed there was a real possibility she'd be ticked off and tell us "nice to see you, there's the door" but what's life without taking a chance now and then.
I arrived last and perhaps that was a subconscious thing on my part. If my sisters cars were parked in the driveway I knew our unannounced appearance was well received. It wasn't until I showed up last, though, that she caught on to what was happening and that said so much about my sister's state of mind. You can't easily get anything by Sister #4 but we did that day.
What was really nice about that sister meeting was that we were able to speak of Andrea. About her, her life, the sometimes stupid but funny stuff she used to do or say.
Sister #5 hosted our February, 2018 sister meeting. What struck me about that get together is that it was more like our usual sister meetings. There was teasing, laughter, and even some display of temper and arguing over a game we played. It was a card game, I think called "cards against the world". It was the most obnoxious, rude, insulting game I've ever played and I never laughed so much in my life. It was a good sister meeting.
Sister #6 held our March, 2018 sister meeting. At Christmas she had given everyone an Appleby's gift card so we all met there for lunch then went to her home for desert. Again, it was more like our old sister meetings.
Which brings me to our sister meeting held on April 28th. We played a card game, for money, and Sister #2 actually got snarky with Sister #5 who won both pots of money. Sister #2 won't admit it but she hates to lose.
There was a very loud silence after Sister #2 asked Sister #4 to do something for her and Sister #4 declined. We all knew Sister #2 was angry about the response she received. Her red face said it all. No one said anything, though, as we all just sat there waiting for the angry words we could clearly see she was thinking. She remained quiet and held them in. As I'm writing this I can't help but think maybe it would have been better if the angry words were spoken. They probably would have been doosies and we all know Sister #4 can give better than she gets.
Obviously, we're not quite back to normal yet but I can see light at the end of the tunnel; we're getting there. I'm beginning to think a nice argument might be good for us. No more egg shells and tip-toeing around each other. I'll have to see what I can do if the opportunity presents itself at our next sister meeting.
Wish me luck.