Monday, January 26, 2009

A cold night in January

Solitary road trips are always a time for reflection. But when the purpose of the trip is to see a beloved sister for what seems likely to be the last time, reflection turns easily to regret. Today I covered about 700 miles under a low sky the same color as the pavement, the dun fields on either side wheeling by like the gears of time. If there's a suitable venue for contemplating life and how it ends, that's as good as any. Every mile I thought of Val, the impetuous girl she'd been and the kind, patient woman she became, and how my memories between the two are far fewer than they should be.

That's where the regret comes in. I could have have been a much better brother. Could have sent birthday cards, could have helped out, could have dropped by once in awhile with a bucket of chicken and a smile. I could have done a lot of things; I hate knowing that I didn't. I hate that every feeling I have about this is a cliche. Most of all, I hate that my sister is dying and there's nothing I can do about it except curse the cancer and wallow in self-indulgent melancholy. And drive 1,200 miles to say goodbye after years when I wouldn't drive a quarter of the distance to say hello. Here's another cliche: If you care for somebody, let them know -- don't wait until you have to.

It's deep winter here in Wyoming. Tonight it's supposed to hit 25 below. There's a bunch of semis outside, all idling through the night lest they be dead in the morning. A better writer might wring a metaphor from that. I won't try it. It's a winter night, cold enough to hurt, and there's going to be a death in my family. No metaphors are required.


Uriah Robinson said...

So sorry to hear this news.

Anonymous said...

With grace and empathy, David.

One your return trip, please consider stopping by on your way through.


Anonymous said...

How very sad -- and eloquent. Think I'll call my sisters tonight.

My condolences.

Mea said...

Friend, I send my thoughts to you across the miles. Thank you for standing by me in my hardest days. Now I'm with you.

Ryan said...

My mother fought with cancer a while back. She was fortunate enough to win.

I wish you the best and offer my thoughts to you and your sister. And I hope you remember the good things.

'wela said...

You shouldn't regret. No one plans on a sibling dying, there's no way you could have seen this coming.

I, like you, am at an age where we start losing friends/family/loved ones. It makes for a weird world, doesn't it? Maybe it's time I stopped worrying about when the Grown-up Police are going to show up and send me back to school.

My condolences for you and your family. I hope the Fates are kind to your sister, and I hope you all find the grace to deal with grieving.


Linda J said...

Thoughts and prayers are with you Dave! I think your post will probably make all of us think about our siblings!

pundy said...

That's very sad and moving. I guess we all could - and should - have done more when we had the chance. We share your regret at lost opportunities.