11 Years and It Still Hurts

Us

My brothers may kill me for this photo, but I had to put it up. Just so you know, in order from left to right are me, my sister Jessica, my brother Gabriel, and my brother Daniel.

Today marks 11 years since my sister died. For some reason I’m so torn up this year that I’m kind of scaring myself.

She would be turning 30 this year, come June.

We were supposed to celebrate in a HUGE way.

Now, all I have left to remember her is her memory, and at this moment, for me, that’s not enough.

Facebook doesn’t help much either, because I keep seeing those photos that say some variation of “Like if you have the best sister in the world,” and I would click, except my sister would never see it. She never knew about Facebook anyway. It wasn’t open to other folk outside of Harvard anyway.

I think about all of the things that I enjoy now, that she never knew about. A certain Mr. Bruno Mars. The Matrix movies, and any of the Iron Man/Avengers stuff. It sounds so silly doesn’t it? To be waxing poetic about singers and movies that my sister wasn’t alive to see or hear.
She would have had the same reaction to Whitney Houston’s death as I did. Mostly because we spent HOURS singing songs from The Preacher’s Wife soundtrack and from The Bodyguard.

I keep thinking about how only the cellist got to be with her for any significant amount of time. She has five other nieces and nephews to hug and kiss and spoil. She might have gotten married and given us some people to spoil as well. My children don’t have a maternal aunt. I can’t get over that. My brother’s kids both have an aunt and uncle, but not mine.

I feel cheated. Mostly because everyone else in my family has someone to pair up with. My mom and dad have each other, my brothers have each other, and then there’s me. Left to be weird and try to fill the time that I would initially be on the phone with my little sister with other things. No taking impromptu road trips with my sister. No telling secrets to someone who is bound to me by blood, and the kind of love that doesn’t care how many fights you’ve had, or if you had a big fight. I would have someone to call in the middle of the night and they would answer the phone.

I have friends and cousins who say that they would do this, but let’s be real, the only person who would have said this AND not hated me for calling at two in the morning to talk about my irrational fear of going to the circus with my children the next day because of the clowns is my sister.

There are lots of things that I did in reaction to the death of Jessica.

I joined the navy.

I started talking to Mr. Houseful civilly again. ( we were 21 years old – stop holding your breath)

I started doing things the way that I wanted to do them, when I wanted to do them, because I figured death is final.

Now, I’m here. Blogging away and loving it overall. I have four children, a fantastic husband, and a great life. We aren’t poor, we don’t go hungry, and we get to do awesome things.

But.

The hole that is still in my heart never gets smaller. I find myself trying to hear her voice the way that I remember it in the car the night before she died. We were talking about her boyfriend and how she was going to miss him when she went to boot camp. She also asked me if I thought that I was going to marry Mr. Houseful. The cellist was happily cooing away in his car seat, and life was good.

I feel like I did the day that she died. Mad. Hurt. Confused. Lost. I haven’t attended church at all this month, and I’m not sure that I want to go back any time soon.

I realize that this post is literally a brain vomit, but I felt the need to get this out, otherwise…well.

So, if you all have time today, just say a small prayer for me, please? I’d appreciate it.

62 comments

  1. Diane says:

    Thanks for sharing your heart and vulnerability with us. I was uttering a prayer for you all the while I was reading your thoughts. He will watch over you and bless you abundantly as you draw close to Him. Wish I understood your reasons for not being in church and not wanting to go back. It’s okay to feel and still mourn; but we also must choose to remember all the beautiful moments and times that we have shared with those we love so much. God bless.

    • Natasha Nicholes says:

      I haven’t been because I’m grieving as hard this year as I did the day that she died. This has hit me WAY harder than the last ten years, and I just don’t want to be around people who have well meaning intentions but say all the wrong things. It’s not just church I’m avoiding, but most situations that put me RIGHT in the middle of a bunch of people who know me. Thanks for coming through, and for your prayers. They are appreciated.

    • Natasha Nicholes says:

      It sucks majorly. I thought that I would be a little bit past the gut wrenching sobbing at this point in time though. Unfortunately that’s not true. I’m learning more about what full blown love for a person will do to you. However, I am happy to say that I do spend more time laughing about the 18 years that we had together. Thanks so much for coming through.

  2. Barbara says:

    Such a sad post. I am so sorry for your pain. My mom says of losing my father that the pain doesn’t go away, you just get used to living with it. My dear friend lost her sister when she (the sister) was seventeen and the anniversary is always painful. I will pray for you.

    • Natasha Nicholes says:

      I could talk about Jessica all day long! :) I just hope that someone else who is dealing with the loss of a very close loved one, knows that sometimes the feeling of that loss can hit you randomly, years later.

  3. Alicia pouncy says:

    Praying for you Tasha only God can give you that peace. My older sister passed some year ago that why I can feel you. My mother, father and a brother, I just can’t explain how I felt but God had to give me that peace. Nothing wrong in missing your sister, love ya

    • Natasha Nicholes says:

      Thank you! I know that I get peaceful feelings at times, but this year, it’s as if a dam on the emotions broke, and the floodgates to all of my tears were opened. This entire month has been difficult.

  4. Caroll says:

    Thank you for sharing your a part of your life that is so pivotal if yet still raw. I sincerely hope you will be able to find the peace you need to one day only see the beauty of her life and not the unfortunate circumstance that is her passing. She lives in you, so she will always be a thought away. Her physical existence is no more but it is very apparent that her influence has given your life meaning and made it just that much more appreciated. So, she is continuing her job when it comes to her big sis. Yes, you will never be the same, but that’s not a bad thing either because her life meant something and you are the living proof.

    Peace & Light
    Caroll
    Caroll recently posted..The Love & Peace ShirtMy Profile

    • Natasha Nicholes says:

      Death is so tough. We know that it’s going to happen, we just all wish that it didn’t. No one is trying to hurry to get there. I feel like something went wrong because she went before me, or my parents. That’s just not how *I* imagined it would be. But we know that it isn’t up to us. I take each day as it comes, and I try to make sure that I focus on the good parts. It’s still harder than I expected for this year. Thank you for sharing your story.

  5. Kathy says:

    It was so great to meet you tonight and you made my day when you told me how much reading my blog has meant to you lately! I am so glad I got the chance to read some of your writing now, especially such a heartfelt post about your dear sister Jessica. I am so sorry for your loss. As you know, we never get over the death of our loved ones, somehow we just learn to live without them. But our “new normals” are not easy and as you said in one of your comments:

    “…just hope that someone else who is dealing with the loss of a very close loved one, knows that sometimes the feeling of that loss can hit you randomly, years later.:

    So true!

    I went for my annual OB/GYN appt. last week and just sitting in the waiting room brought back so many memories of good times and bad spent there over the years, especially related to our baby girl that left this world too soon. By the time one of my favorite nurses brought me back to an examining room I was in tears and pretty much bawled through the whole appt. Good for me, the doctors and nurses know my story and have been through it all with me, so they don’t act like I am crazy when I do that.

    The triggers are so hard, as never know when they are going to hit.

    Sending healing thoughts and prayers your way tonight and in the days to come. Jessica sounds like she was an amazing young woman and sister. I am so sorry that she didn’t live to see her 30th birthday or to take road trips with you or to be on the other end of the phone line whenever you want or need to call. (((HUGS TO YOU)))
    Kathy recently posted..Winter Shed: Week EightMy Profile

  6. Sheri says:

    Grief is a funny thing. It flairs up at times that may or may not make sense. I’m glad that you are taking care of yourself though by writing and reflecting. I know how it feels. My stepbrother was killed years ago and the loss doesn’t so much get easier. I always wonder what he might have done with his life and what kind of relationship he would have had with the chilcren he left behind. I’m praying for you.
    Sheri recently posted..What I Saw Wednesday: an Automotive Accessory ThrowbackMy Profile

  7. Michelle Levine says:

    Wow. Bless you. Thank you so much for sharing that. Today is the anniversary of my mom’s passing, and I was feeling so low until I read your post. I followed you and am your new biggest fan. I said a prayer for you and have a strong suspicion you will be fine…..and must be raising the most amazing children! In solidarity…..here’s a toast to our lost loved ones.
    Michelle Levine recently posted..RiskMy Profile

    • Natasha Nicholes says:

      Thank you for coming through, and big hugs as you have to remember a time in your life that wasn’t so pleasant. Thank you for your prayers as well! My kids are indeed amazing – when they aren’t writing on walls, or escaping cribs. LOL! *raises glass to you!

  8. Pamela @ Still Dating My Spouse says:

    Natasha, I met you a year ago and the experience is still fresh with me so if your sister was half as fun & memorable as you I understand (besides she being your sister) why its hard being without her.

    You are absolutely right, sisters are irreplaceable. No matter how much our cousins and friends try to step in. I also have a sister & I call her in the middle of the night all through the day just to talk about nothing or about a fear that most would think is silly.

    Yes, you have all rights to still miss her and cry. Its her 30th birthday year. Why not do something on her birthday that you know she would have liked. Hey I know you are the best seamstress/sewer in Chicago, I think its time you made a purse, wallet, or something uniquely tied to your sister & give it the name “Jessica.”

    She is so much a part of you, don’t silence her! She is with you and she is comforting you. Hey talk about her. Blog about her. Hey I also know you love to dance so I know you guys made up a few dance steps, teach them to the Twizzlers.

    You got me in tears because as I don’t know your pain, I do know the love sisters can have. I love my sister & I know from your post here & things I have read you say about her you loved & still do love your sister.

    God got you baby girl! He is a comforter but he also allow us to experience the things we need to experience. When you have experience whatever He needs you to experience, he will dry up those tears but he will NEVER remove her from your memory!

    Let’s celebrate the memories you have of her…but one thing I do want to say: don’t exclude those (church members) that God is placing in your path to help you through this rough path. We go to God & his place for comfort, healing, and a word…Get back in church and allow God people to comfort you!

    I will say a prayer for the House of Nichols!

    Pamela
    Pamela @ Still Dating My Spouse recently posted..Marriage ChallengesMy Profile

    • Natasha Nicholes says:

      Pamela,

      Thanks for swinging through. You know, it’s not the church that I have a problem with per se. It’s the fact that so many people want to make it seem as if grief should disappear after a certain time. I’m not down all year long, and I don’t think that it should be that difficult for a body of people who do see me all year to understand. You know? And sometimes, you can’t always pray the grief away. You HAVE to talk about it, and get it out, and voice it, and cry, and just sit, and still pray, but you have to do something. I loved meeting you last year too, and look forward to many more conferences and many more meetups with you. :)
      Natasha Nicholes recently posted..Putting Edge Mini Golf – Spring Break Activity Anyone?My Profile

  9. ces says:

    No wonder I sense a sort of connection right after reading the title of your post. I am going through the same situation as well. My only sibling (older brother) died a little over three years ago and the wound in my heart is still fresh. I sometimes think that I’ll never get over his loss. :(

    Anyway, I am saying a little prayer for your sister as well as the rest of your family.
    ces recently posted..Welcoming Pope Francis… in styleMy Profile

    • Natasha Nicholes says:

      CES,

      One thing that has helped me (and I had to figure it out years down the line) is actually writing about it. I have many unpublished blog posts in regard to things that we have done, and conversations that we have had, and when I write each one, I feel a teensy bit better. It doesn’t take away any of the hurt, but for a couple of minutes, I’m transported back to when she was here, and we were laughing or even arguing, and life was good.

  10. Dalene says:

    Hi Natasha – I too lost a sister, it’ll be six years ago in July. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t gone through this could ever truly understand what it’s like to lose a sibling and best friend all at once. Someone who knows you better than you know yourself.

    I’m always surprised by every anniversary that comes around – how one date on a calendar can cause such emotion leading up to it. It’s just a date, I try to tell myself. I miss her everyday, why do anniversaries have to carry so much sting?

    The pain will probably never pass, and that’s okay. It’s a reminder of who she was to you, and what she wants for you – to remember her death but also what she stood for in life. Go out. Live. Make the most of every moment on this earth you have with your family. It’s what she would want. :)
    Dalene recently posted..The Finnish Sauna ExperienceMy Profile

    • Natasha Nicholes says:

      Dalene,

      First of all, I wish that you didn’t know the feeling. It sucks (can I say sucks? LOL!) And yes, anniversaries carry HUGE weight. I’m okay with holidays – I mean, I miss her, but it’s not that bad because I can pretend that she is away serving in the Navy like she was supposed to be. Even her birthday usually didn’t bring sadness, but THIS YEAR. This year is kicking my butt something fierce and I am grateful that I put it out there, because I don’t think that I would be able to deal with it as I have been doing without all of the encouraging words and thoughts and emails that have flooded my inbox and blog since posting. I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers, and we’ll both go out and BE together. :)

  11. Eva says:

    You call it brain vomit, but for some of us it is such a wake up call. I have just one brother that I was just complaining about this very morning – we haven’t talked in six months, and the anger is turning to sadness. Nothing happened – he’s just that way sometimes. Then I read this… 11 years… I couldn’t imagine. Thank you for sharing this. It made me think back to he and I talking and laughing for hours about everything and nothing at all. I miss it, and this served as quite a reminder that every moment should be appreciated, and opportunity to connect with loved ones, siezed. I’ll be praying for you.
    Eva recently posted..“You Cut Your Face Off!” …And Other Bedtime NightmaresMy Profile

    • Natasha Nicholes says:

      THAT! I totally get irritated when I see people who still have their siblings and don’t realize that life is fleeting. I know that it isn’t a call for me to make, and that I don’t know the entire story by ANY means with those types of instances, but I just pine for my one and only sister to be with me. I do hope that you pick up the phone and make that very difficult phone call. Sometimes, life is funny. You don’t get along with people while they are able to be here and appreciate it, but when they are gone, and it’s final that you will NEVER get to say anymore I love you’s or ignore them for another day because they’ve irritated you, it hurts. I hope you pick up that phone and that everything falls back into place with the laughter as if no time has passed.

  12. CreativeJuicez says:

    Natasha…my mom passed away 30 years ago this January (I was 14). You’d think after 30 years one would be waaaay over it. But for some reason this year too hit me hard. I’ve been a parent longer than my mom was. I’ve been on this earth longer than she was. My children never knew their maternal grandmother (and never will). She wasn’t at my graduation or wedding. She never got to coo over them as babies, chase them around the house as toddlers, scold them as teenagers, or tell them she is proud of them as young adults. But then my oldest said something that made me stop and think…”Mom, you say, Grandma Bonnie wasn’t there…or was she? The soft breeze gently caressing your cheek…could have been Grandma giving you a kiss (she was a typical Frenchwoman and would greet people by giving a kiss on both cheeks). That “warm fuzzy” you feel as you drift off to sleep…could it be Grandma giving you a hug goodnight? You always see rainbows…maybe it’s Grandma’s way of saying hello” Sometimes my son’s kindness and whimsical thoughts amaze me. So whenever I feel the breeze, feel that “warm fuzzy” or see a rainbow, I will try to think of my mom without sadness or tears. And know that one day we will meet again.

    • Natasha Nicholes says:

      Reading this has made me tear up. Oh, who am I kidding, all of the comments are making me cry! I find myself remembering little things that Jessica did too. For instance, if you were telling her a story and she was completely engrossed in it, she would mouth the words back silently while you were telling it. It drove me CRAZY, but I would give anything to have her do that now. I do think that she’s in the little things around here. Mr. Houseful just commented how Lil’ Miss twizzler reminds him a lot of my sister tonight while we were cooking dinner. It made me smile. A lot.

  13. Sally says:

    Thank you for the reminder that every day with our loved ones is precious. I think it’s easy to forget sometimes for those of us who haven’t experienced it.

    • Natasha Nicholes says:

      It’s even easy to forget when you have experienced it Sally. There are days when I’m mad at a family member, and I have to ask myself is it really worth it. Will it matter when they or I am gone from this earth? Sometimes I still stew, but most of the time, I attempt to release or talk about what was bothering me in the first place, and move on with life. Thanks for stopping through.

  14. Winnie says:

    Had to pop over to leave you a note. I am sorry for your loss, and I wish you peace and send you a virtual hug. I lost my hunger brother when he was 28 11 years ago. I still have many of the feelings you have and am glad to see you voicing your feelings. It will help. I lost my husband when I was 40, and it left me reeling, but, the loss of my brother left me grieving in different ways. I think the young age of my brother compounds the grief. Keep going and remembering and sharing as that will keep your sisters memory alive and well for you and your family and friends. Take care.

    • Natasha Nicholes says:

      Big hugs to you,and thank you for stopping by and commenting. The youth and potential of what was lost is I think what did it for me. Not knowing what she would have been. She was 18, so young, vibrant and full of possibility! I appreciate you sharing that part of you with me.

  15. Melanie L says:

    Consider yourself prayed for. I have almost no experience with grief and cannot imagine what you must be going through. But I do understand sadness and loneliness and the feeling one gets when they realize that something they have hoped and dreamed for is never going to happen. Never, Period. And knowing that, I send you lots of warm huggles today. Thanks for sharing your truth.

    • Natasha Nicholes says:

      Thank you for your prayers! All those emotions and feelings going on at once can be paralyzing. They have paralyzed. And to be honest, they might do it again. But I know that there is a light, and there are people here who still need me, and can help me remember all of the great times that I have had with her.

  16. Kimmah Shah says:

    I wish I could say that I didn’t know how you felt but I do. My sister didn’t die. But my mother did. She died from Cancer, in 1999 a few days before my son turned one years old. While I did grieve “in my way” I never “grieved”. Not until the last year. There was just so much going on in my life. I was FINALLY finishing college. I was anticipating getting engaged and I was scared because I was unsure. All this stuff going on and I wanted and needed my mom. I found myself waking up hysterical in tears one day. I thought I was going crazy. How could I miss her so much all of a sudden. I think, for me, there were so many changes in my life. And like you, no matter what people said or did they couldn’t fill the void. I didn’t want a mother substitute..I wanted my mom. The pain and grief have subsided. I find myself just talking to her now, unlike before when I just….I just didn’t. Like you said, death is final. I thought crying can’t bring her back so I didn’t. But for me, I finally realized crying and giving into the emotion somehow did. I feel closer to her now than I did after she died. I’m sure you’ll figure out your feelings. I sooooooo know what you feel, though I wish neither of us did. I’ll just be praying for you (and your sister).

    • Natasha Nicholes says:

      I am so sorry to read about your mother. And it does feel harder since I have children. I think that this is the first year that I have allowed myself to fully accept my grief. Other times, in my head it was always “Natasha, that was x amount of years ago…you should be over it!” Now, I stop, allow myself to have my moment or moments, and when I’m done, I move on. The moments are always going to come – that’s something that I have had to come to terms with. And the thinking that I was going crazy part has happened here too. Thank you for coming through, and for your kind words on twitter. ((hugs))

  17. Melinna says:

    I don’t have a full-blooded sister. I have a half-sister with whom I share a father and I am very close to her although she is 16 years younger than I am. I love her and admire her dearly.

    But the hurt that you feel, I think, is akin to what I feel about the loss of my maternal aunt, who died when my daughter was 9 days old. My aunt never had a child herself but she adored my son whom she met only once and would have adored my daughter — no questions asked. My aunt and daughter are two peas of the same pod — two peas who talk too much, who can be outrageous and are always the center of attention. Some genes just get passed on, no matter how you try to suppress them!

    I have a picture of my aunt above my kitchen sink so that when I am there — far too often! — I can share my life now with her even though I am without her. She is missed every day. Grief is so daunting and irrepressible. I wish this weren’t the case.

    • Natasha Nicholes says:

      The good and bad thing about grief is that it is not a respecter of person. A kid can know the sadness of grief just like someone older. Someone who’s lost a parent, cousin, or aunt, can feel grief just as strongly as someone who has lost a grandparent, sibling or friend. I hate reading about so many instances of grief, but it also lets me know that I will be okay, because so many awesome people come through and let me know that THEY are okay, and that THEY are dealing with it the best way they know how. That there is nothing wrong with acknowledging and pressing on. Thank you so much for coming through!

  18. Chasing Joy says:

    I will definitely say a prayer for you. I don’t have a sister so I cant know how you feel, but I did lose my dad almost 4 years ago so I can relate to the pain that does not go away and resurfaces just as raw at times.

    Hang in there. Go back to church when you feel ready. In the mean time pray for youself. (((Hugs)))
    Chasing Joy recently posted..All About Me From A to ZMy Profile

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