«

»

May 20 2015

Dear Carie

Dear Carie,

I cannot believe it has been four years since you left. I know you can be happy and do not have to suffer anymore, but time does not seem to flow properly anymore. To think it has been since February 2011 that I have had this void in my heart of a sister, friend, and mentor. The pain still feels very raw as if it was only yesterday. Yet at the same time, it feels like I have missed you for a much longer time. You gave me the first hints in my heart of true value within me. I wish I could have supported you more, I wish I could have said goodbye. This is the fourth letter I write to you on your birthday, yet this is the first one where I feel like a stronger person able to live on. If you could see me now, would you be proud?

Do you remember when we first met? I vowed to hate you. I had this jealousy because you and your mom were already such great friends with my dad. I felt like you were stealing him away from me. Eventually I grew and realized how happy he was to spend time with all of us not just you, her, or me. He wanted us all there all the time. It was not a subtraction of time with him. Moreover, having everyone together made his smiles bigger and his life happier. Realizing that opened my mind to having siblings, because I was alone until then… All of a sudden, I had ‘won’ a brother, another mother, and a sister.

I wish you could stand by me in happiness now, however that was not fated to be true and I am glad you did not suffer more. It hurt so much to watch you in pain. I wish I could have cured it all. I would have happily taken it upon myself so you did not have to suffer. This year would have been something special. With you turning forty today and my turning thirty in November think of the parties we could have had. I wish you could come to my future wedding. I wish you could be an aunt for my future children. The short time you and I spent together made it hurt even more to lose you. You showed me the value in so many things, including myself. Even though you stand in a place far away, in a form I cannot know, you will remain in my heart each day for the rest of my life.

Many of my best memories of years past were standing beside you. There will always be memories of great quotes and funny comments. I still keep a quote book, although it has changed a lot since when you were with us. You started it, a way to record our living history. I used to pull it out anytime something even remotely funny, ironic, or otherwise memorable. It has now become a book of sentiment, both the book itself and the contents thereof. The first quote book I converted to a digital media that subsequently has been lost forever, just like you. However, that does not mean the quotes, and you, are gone from my heart. For a long time I stowed Quote Book II in a safe place where I would never lose it, but also not find it. The title and beginning of the book penned in your own hand. It was always a painful thing to see.

When we played Bridge, it was a weekly walk into love and trust. I have never had a partner like you. There was something there something amazing. The way we communicated that made the world seem whole in those moments. I never had to filter myself around you. It did not matter what we were doing. If it was you and I, I could turn the filter off. Anything I said, anything I did, I never felt like I was wrong or out of place. I could say and admit things to you that I could not say to anyone else. You carried all my secrets and kept them secret. You gave my heart solace. You were accepting of everything I had to say. Would you be surprised where I am today? I know you would not. You saw my eyes. You looked into my soul, and you held it close. Dear sister, I miss you so much.

You were the best sister a young fearful out of place boy could ask for! You taught me that a girl did not need to be girly. You taught me that a man did not need to be manly. You were striving for new knowledge each day. You used logic and thought to combat problems more often than not to happy resolutions. You had emotion when it was helpful, and found a way to filter it down when it was unhelpful. I wish I could be so strong and wise. You were a role model living every day to the fullest and being happy and strong despite any circumstance placed upon you. I wish I could have been the strong sister you needed at times, just as you were for me.

Four years later, I still feel bad. I did not know what to say on that day at Wrigley Field. Now I know exactly what I would say and do. I knew something was up, I knew something was wrong. I knew you were fearful, but I did not know why. When you got up to get that phone call, I saw that look in your eye when you read the caller’s number. The game was instantly meaningless. In this moment, I do not even know who was playing or even what month it was. However, I sure remember our seats: Upper Deck box, Aisle 409, Row 7, seats 103 and 104. When you came back, your face had dropped and I had no idea what to do. I had no idea that you had testing done again. I had no idea that you were feeling poor again. Yet, from the look in your eyes, before you said it, I knew what it was. It was fear I saw in your eyes, and probably the same fear you saw in mine as you said, “The cancer’s back, this time I might not be so lucky.” To this day, I cannot go to Wrigley Field without remembering that moment, and that pain. To think, I was the first person you told. You took me to that game knowing it was where you would get the call… That fact has given me a feeling of honor I have never felt before. Eventually, I will be able to sit in those seats again, but for now, the closest I can get is the other side of the stadium.

I wish I could go back and feel the emotions with you instead of four years later. I had worked so hard for so long to get emotion out of my life. One of the lessons you taught me that I have worked hard to take into my heart is that there is a balance, and moderation in all things. Emotion has its place, but so does logical thought. For someone to be fulfilled they must have a balance of both of these things. I needed to be beside you to support you instead I was repressing the things I felt. I am sorry I could not support you. I regret not being able to. I look back on my life and count the regrets, there are plenty. However, this is not the only regret I have in regards to losing you. I truly regret my distance that day and every day thereafter until you were no longer with us. You stood by me in the darkest of my days, yet I had such trouble standing by you.

I cannot begin to tell you how right you were. Everything I have ever seriously debated with you, I now agree with you, on everything we seriously butted heads. Each time, I was wrong. I am not referring to little stuff like colors or sports teams. I am talking the larger topics. You were right on everything. The thing I got most mad about is the thing where you were most right. I have come around over the years. You made me realize my political affiliation. You helped me construct my spiritual and religious beliefs. You helped me draw the line between spirituality, religion, and science. Even if you drew that line in a different place, you helped me draw mine. However, I ramble, I did that a lot when I did not want to say something, and you always saw though it.

One of the biggest regrets of my life, without a doubt, is not being beside you in the last of your days with us. Our Mom and Dad reached out to me to try to bring me there. Even my mom said I should go to your side. I do not know if you asked them to do that but they tried. I blamed it on the excuse that I could not bear to see you suffer. However, that was not the truth. I was too angry, I am so very sorry. I was still mad about what you said a couple weeks before. In retrospect, you were one of few that knew, but I just was not ready to hear it myself.

Carie, I am so sorry. I know you did not want to tell me, but I pushed. I knew you had something to say to me and I wanted you to be able to say anything. When it was an apology, I was confused: “I’m sorry you’ve had to put up with the pain so long.” Was someone who I was losing to cancer apologizing to me for the pain? It turns out I had misunderstood what you said. After confessing my confusion, you said this: “I know you weren’t meant to be a man.” Years later, I know you are right. It took me a long time to realize that. It is little solace to the fact that after you said that I was angry. We had fights, as you tried to reach out, but I was angry and I refused to see you again.

If this was a paper, and I was writing by hand, as I did in years past, it would be wet with tears by now. I have no need to forgive you, you did nothing wrong. I have need, and the inability, to forgive myself. How do I rationalize that our last days were spent fighting with you? Over something you said that was completely true but I was not ready to hear. If you were not able to say it, would you have regretted it? Are you glad I pushed even with the result that happened? So much of what I remember is good memories of a loving and open sister helping me to survive a turbulent time in my mind. The day after you passed, I knew what I had done. I had lost my only chance to say goodbye. It hurt greatly, and the fault belonged to me.

I tore myself up for a while over that but eventually it converted into something powerful. The first letter I wrote to you was a couple months after you passed on May 20 2011. I ended it with a line that said a lot about where I my future was, even if I did not fully realize it at the time. It was just me writing and what came out was a gender neutrality I never intended. I wrote, “I vow to be a person you can be proud to call your sibling.” At the time I was living under my mom’s roof, I had no job, no motivation to get a job and no income. Every opportunity I had, I had squashed myself. When I wrote that I was crying and did not choose those words, they chose me. I did not even notice until a couple of days after, when I was destroying the letter. The word “sibling” grabbed my eye and after rereading the letter it was the first time I considered that you may have been right, at least a little. I promptly destroyed the letter but that line has had me motivated though to getting a job, moving out, getting a technology job, moving into a better place, getting a better technology job, coming out, and beginning to transition. Who would have guessed that I would be this far after only four years from being a bum in my mom’s house? Even though I still have a long trip ahead of me, today, I would like to think that you would be proud to call this woman your little sister.

In retrospect, I never should have been angry. It is that anger, and the actions and decisions it caused, that I regret. I was stubborn and refused to see the truth in myself. I will live with the decisions I made during that time for the rest of my life. I hope eventually it will grow from regret into something else, but it remains mired there. It has been said that time heals all wounds. I know you hated that line, in many ways I do too. However, I feel that time is the only thing that will help this particular wound. I cannot go back and change it. I cannot think of any way that I was ‘right’ in being angry. I cannot think of any reason I should not have been there with you during those days. All I can do is apologize to myself, and to you, dear sister. Eventually I may receive forgiveness from myself, but I do not deserve it from you.

However, I do take solace in all the happy memories. Do you remember our parents wedding under the trees on the Longcommon? I sure do. All the fun quotes spoken, all the crossword puzzles done, all the baseball games watched, all the card and board games played. Every time I play ‘Zombies’ or any trivia game I still think of you. You were the only person that could regularly out trivia me, regardless of topic. I cannot play Hearts or Spades without thinking about them as dumbed down versions of Bridge, because of you. I still enjoy them immensely, just as you did, but nothing stacks up to Bridge. I have so much happiness in the time I spent with you.

It is hard for me to figure out how to end this letter. I do not feel like there is much left to say. I guess I can end with the most important things. You taught me the value of live, the universe, and everything. You taught me a great deal about computer hardware and electronics. You taught me that there could be no happiness without at least a little pain. You taught me that life is a balancing act of many things. You taught me that balance is important in life.

I miss you and I love you.

 

Your Little Sister,

~Jo

 

About the author

Josie

I’ve never been good at writing about myself. I’ve never been good at ‘talking up my strengths’ but at least I should try…

I am a 30 year old (gasp), woman. To me, it is just that simple. My life is slowly coming together into a form where I can be proud to call it my life.

Who am I? I’m a strong, loving woman that was assigned male at birth and is finally correcting that egregious error by biology. For most women if they have an urge like wearing a sundress, they just do it. For my first 29 years on this planet, that wasn’t a possibility.

I write to heal, then publish to inform. I hope my journey can make the journeys of people that come after me just a little less painful.

I also have a ‘day job’ as a Data Center Technician. I do an incredibly physical job lifting fixing and moving servers. I daily, walk into and then maintain ‘the cloud.’ Servers are still quite a bit larger and heavier than your desktop at home. So much so that I am the only woman on my team of 20 and one of 5 in the entire building of about 75. Technology is without a doubt a male dominated industry. Which makes me quite sad.

I wish I could better express who I am. I don’t feel like I’ve done justice to my history, my life, and my story, but for now, this will have to do. To me the most beautiful thing in the world is understanding and empathy. If we can have only one thing for each other person on this planet, I choose empathy.

Leave a Reply