Needing A Sister!
By La Belle Rouge Poetess Of The Heart
Five Years Weren't Long Enough
Art "Two Sisters"
By Emily James
Needing A Sister
By La Belle Rouge
How do you begin a story that took a lifetime to finish? You tell it one word at a time spanning decades.
Her eyes were almost black with a brilliant spark of life. Dark hair, tanned skin, revealed her Cherokee heritage along with high cheekbones. She was petite and fiery, quick tempered and controlling. She was one of those striking women who commands the attention of all eyes when they enter a room.
Now the ebony eyes were lightened to sickly amber and her skin reflected a yellowed paleness. I held her hand and when the amber eyes occasionally opened I wondered if she knew me, even knew I was there. There was nothing now that could save her fragile life. Nothing I could do but hold her hand and will her to feel my love. I held her hand, watched as each breath became more labored and silently thanked God for morphine. The rest of the family was in the kitchen after a long night of watchfulness and tears, leaving me alone with her.
The last words she had said to me several hours before were, “I’m so tired.”
I wondered what people see when they are dying. Do they see anything at all? Do they see angels or deceased loved ones? I sat beside her bed remembering other death beds, other loved ones who slipped away. I waited and I remembered....
She was like a queen to me. She was Marie Antoinette and I was her humble lady in waiting. I loved her fiercely and only wished for her love in return, a love delayed a lifetime.
Bobby socks and saddle shoes, starchy crinolines and a gray flannel skirt with a pink poodle wearing a long leash that led up to and circled her tiny waist, that’s how I remember Cindy Anne. A strapless pink evening gown with a full ruffled skirt that swayed from side to side when she walked. White wedding dress, orchids held in her diminutive hands.
I remembered all the times I tried to win her love, hugs from a little girl pushed away, unwanted. I know a small child can be a pest to a teenaged girl, but her irritation went beyond the norm and she never showed any affection for me. I remembered the times she screamed at me or hit me. The time she cut off my long reddish-gold curls, causing our mother’s horror when she came home from work. I remembered the girlfriends who visited, the way they giggled and how they danced to the old 72’s on the record player. They loved me, held me up in their arms and danced me around the room, painted my finger and toenails, brushed my hair up into a ponytail that resembled theirs. They called me a little doll and showered me with hugs and kisses. But the hugs I really craved never came, my only sister hated me and I didn’t know why.
The years went by, she traveled the world, I wrote letters that remained unanswered. Parents passed away, still no bond between us, even at deathbeds and funerals, no warmth or consolation from the sister I wanted to console. I grieved for my sister, my heart felt somehow incomplete without her. I saw other sisters out to lunch or shopping together, laughing, hugging and tears would slide down my cheeks for the bond I would never have.
The years passed the contacts ceased but never did I forget or lose the desire to know and have the love of a sister.
Finally I called her and I said to her, “I know you hate me, but I don’t know why you hate me. I want my sister. If I can do anything to change how you feel please at least tell me.”
It became silent on the other end and then she said, “I do hate you. You were sick all the time when you were a baby. Mama spent all her time taking care of you. I needed my mother and you took her away.”
I was completely shocked, I thought I had done some horrible thing to deserve such hatred and now I find out all I had done was be born and be sick. What could I say? How could I fix any of this? Do you apologize for being born? Do you apologize for being a sick infant? How do you gain a sister you had lost for a lifetime?
“Cindy Anne,” I said, “I can’t apologize for being born because being born wasn’t my choice and I can’t apologize for being sick because if I’d had a choice in that it would have never happened. What I do apologize for with all sincerity is that our mother couldn’t be there for you at a time you really needed her and that I was the cause of your pain and loss.”
She cried, I cried. I traveled several hours to visit her the next week. We sat on the porch swing, laughed and cried together. We spent five Christmases together at her house before she became so ill. During that yearlong battle with cancer I was able to be there to console her on the phone and sometimes in person. We had many times of laughter and tears.
Near the end I would call her and she’d say “Don’t you dare cry.”
That last morning as I waited by her bedside, I knew it wouldn’t be long. The breaths were fewer, farther apart and with the unmistakable rattle of death. She opened her eyes and looked right into mine with an expression that I couldn’t really understand. I yelled for her husband and children to hurry and then I told her to go with the angels. She died with all those she loved surrounding her and telling her how much they loved her. It was a good death. If one must die, to die in one’s own bed with words of love from those who matter, that is a good death.
I had my sister only five years it just wasn’t enough time. I was the last of my childhood family living. The grief was unbearable at times, accentuated by the fact that five years compared to a lifetime seemed so small. I wanted more time and I grieved not only from missing her but for all the lost years we might have had if only we could have just told each other the truth. A sister is such a precious gift, I didn’t have enough time to enjoy mine.
I was writing poetry and posting it on several writers’ websites. My sister had been gone only a year when a fellow poet told me that I was just too romantic, too mushy and there was no way I could ever write as a man and pull it off. Well I’m not much on taking dares but I decided to prove him wrong so I took a masculine pen name and I began to write romance and erotic poetry as a man. I thought the poetry sounded manly but wondered if anyone else would. I wasn’t out to hurt or deceive anyone, just to prove I could do what someone said I wasn’t capable of doing.
Then the email began to pour in from hurting and lonely women. Some wanted a relationship with a poet, some wanted to collaborate, some just wanted someone to listen to them and validate their feelings. Why a man? Because most of them had been stabbed in the back by women they thought were their friends.
Now I was in a really sensitive situation. I wanted to do no harm and only help if there was some way I could. So I politely declined any romantic involvements and told the ladies that I never did collaborations because they caused hurt feelings and I listened to those that just needed to talk by email. I tried in little ways to build up their self-image when I could because sometimes a person just needs to hear that they are good and beautiful just the way they are. I knew that because there had been a time I desperately needed to hear it myself. Not being a deceitful person, I was so torn emotionally. Should my male alias simply disappear or should he politely bring a bit of kindness and appreciation to hurting women?
There was a poetess whom I had read and enjoyed for a long time. She knew me as La Belle Rouge and we had always been on friendly terms. We enjoyed each other’s poetry and felt comfortable with our brief communications. This dear lady began to read the poetry I wrote as a man and she gave it such beautiful reviews and then privately she began to email this male poet and like a tender flower her spirit opened up to him. I felt I was walking a tight rope and would surely make a misstep. She was a strong woman but one who had been beat down by life until she had simply laid herself down as the world’s doormat. Day by day I saw her personal strength and her romantic beauty in poetry emerge as my male alias continued to encourage her to be strong and to love herself.
Then came the time I knew things had to change. She was falling in love with my male alter ego, I had been in love, I knew the signs. Though she never said it, I knew it. He had to disappear but he had to do it gradually in ways that wouldn’t devastate her or make her feel betrayed or worthless. So I began to write a public journal as him. He wrote in it how he could not have a long distance relationship. He must have the one he loved always beside him. He moved to another country and wrote about a woman he had met that he wanted to eventually marry.
“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” and I was about to experience that fury. I had hurt her and that was what I never wanted to happen for I loved her, with the purest of sisterly love. Her soul was one in a million, her spirit incomparable. To hurt her was like a thorn deeply stabbing my heart. I could not bear to hurt her as a man or a woman. So I told her, I confessed the whole thing to her and though I thought I had experienced fury before, it was but a mild breeze compared to a hurricane.
“I loved you both,” she wrote to me and then for days she crucified me publicly (though not by name) which I felt I truly deserved. My motives had not been wrong but I made a mess of it all and I felt I deserved her hate and anger. I wrote her and said as much and asked that if she could find it in her heart someday, please forgive me.
Then a miracle happened. A few weeks later she wrote to me and told me after cooling off and thinking about it she knew exactly why I had done what I did and that I had somehow helped to break her out of her emotional prison. Only God and the angels know how relieved I was because not only did I not want to hurt her, I knew that I wanted her friendship forever, that I loved her like a sister.
Soul bonds are stronger than blood bonds. My blood sister and I never had such a soul bond and such understanding of each other. I never told my real sister secrets nor heard any from her. We never really understood each other.
I hope my chosen sister and I will have much more than five years to giggle and cry together, to love and support each other and validate the way each one may feel. She is a godsend to my life and had enough love in her heart to forgive me for all my mistakes. Everyday I thank God for my soul sister who just happens to be named Cindy Anne
11/7/2008 La Belle Rouge
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Crazy Horse (Friday, August 07, 2009)
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