Mary Steel Chewning
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At 7:20pm on September 30, 2013, Allison M said…

Dear Mary,

Every word you write is helping. It feels so much better to talk about her than to not talk about her, and to hear about a big sister's love for her little sister. Our Sarah's made us who we are, for better or worse and I never want to forget that. 

I would love love love if you planted a coconut tree for my Sarah. It is fitting, as Sarah the health-nut inspired my whole family to switch to coconut oil for cooking, and coconuts make me think of her.

I do hug those babies every chance I get. The 2.5 hour drive to get to them suddenly seems like 20 minutes, and I see so much of her in them. And I hope they can see her in me. 

I feel your good thoughts already. And I will keep circulating them back to you and your family. If you don't mind, I'd like to know your Sarah's exact birthday so I can make sure to overload you with good thoughts on that day. 

Love love love,

Allison

At 5:13pm on September 30, 2013, Allison M said…

Looks like I tried to write too much at one time :/

Here is the rest of my eulogy that I would be honored to have you read. xoxo

My Sarah carried my blue bic pen cap in her shoe during her wedding for “something borrowed and something blue.” My vegetarian Sarah, let me eat chicken fingers while holding her newborn son, because I had hopped on the early Greyhound to rush out to see them all the second I heard Andrew was born. My Sarah wouldn’t let me hold her babies too long because she couldn’t get enough of them. And when months would pass without seeing each other, my Sarah would show her kids pictures of me, Brian and our dog Gran and teach them our names, so we were always greeted with hugs and kisses as Tal, Bwian, and Gwan.

My Sarah didn’t want me to leave the hospital when I offered to go so she could rest. My Sarah wanted me to leave when a rowdy phone call from my parents sounded like they could use my help with her kids.

My Sarah wasn’t sweet or nice. My Sarah was and is, caring, fun, funny, beautiful, smart, loving, and most of all loved, and always in my heart.

At 5:08pm on September 30, 2013, Allison M said…

Dear Mary,

I'm so glad you responded. Although your message brought about a fresh wave of tears and sobbing, it's just incredible to connect to someone with whom I can relate. 

I'm terribly sorry to hear about all the other disease that has affected you and your family. It must feel as if someone forgot to shuffle the deck, and a disproportionate amount of crap got dealt to you. It also makes me glad I felt such a strong compulsion to reach out to you, because it appears to help us both. 

My Sarah died 4 days after her 31st birthday, but she got to celebrate it with her husband, her 2 children (Andrew -4yrs, Anna - 19 months), and our parents at the hospital. I can't even imagine how it will feel the next time her birthday comes around, and my thoughts will be with you as your Sarah's birthday passes this first time she won't be there to celebrate it with you. 

I would really like to share with you the eulogy I gave at my Sarah's funeral. I hope it might spark some good childhood memories for you, while it gives me an opportunity to share someone I love very much with a new friend. I've copied it below.

Love,

Allison

"My Sarah"

My whole life, and especially over the last few days, I’ve heard so many people saying that Sarah was one of the nicest and sweetest people they’ve ever met. But, I don’t really know that Sarah. That wasn’t my Sarah. As my big sister, it was Sarah’s duty and obligation to boss me around and to torture me whenever it suited her. My Sarah would drag me off of my bed by my feet to wake me up. My Sarah would pull me around the house by one leg while singing a song she made up called “Hopping Around.” Then there were the years where my Sarah chose to address me as Bearface McClaine. There was the game my Sarah made up called “Belly-Button Time”, where she would grab her alarm clock from her room, make me lay down on her lap, and then she would time how long she could tickle my belly-button before I could wriggle free. But my Sarah was also the one who would pull me into her sleeping bag and hug me to sleep during a thunderstorm that mommy and daddy managed to sleep through while we were camping. My Sarah who would giggle with me when we were supposed to be going to sleep, because we kept saying “McGuyver” even though we didn’t even know who McGuyver was. My Sarah, who had the brilliant idea to practice blood-curdling screams in the bathroom while we were getting ready for bed, both of us confused when mom and dad came running in to see what was the matter. My Sarah would let me hang out with her and her friends if I made them chocolate chip cookies. My Sarah would make fun of my clothes, but then would wear them when they accidentally made it into her room after mom did the laundry, claiming “Mommy must’ve wanted me to have it.” And who could forget the Pink Thing, I know we’ve tried. My Sarah insisted on wearing the most hideous adult onesie when she got out of the shower, despite the rest of our protests.

My Sarah would sit up late at night during college summers and have Instant Message dates with Michael, and would let me stay in the room as long as I didn’t read over her shoulder. My Sarah would cry when she found out Michael had to cancel a trip out to NJ at the last minute due to car problems.

My Sarah would tell me to drive down and stay with her while I was going through a bad breakup in college. And then when I had to hurry back to Syracuse because I accidentally missed a final, would watch tv over the phone with me by DVRing episodes of Intervention and trying to hit play at the same exact time.

My Sarah carried my blue bic pen cap in her shoe during her wedding for “something borrowed and something blue.” My vegetarian Sarah, let me eat chicken fingers while holding her newborn son, because I had hopped on the early Greyhound to rush out to see them all the second I heard

At 3:15pm on September 30, 2013, Allison M said…

Hi Mary,

I was just reading the comments on the article about adult loss of a sibling and read yours. I lost my sister 2 weeks ago, on September 15th, 2013, to cancer at age 31. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in February of 2012, and had seemed to have beaten it. Just a few weeks ago she was short of breath and pale, and had to go to the emergency room. She never left the ICU, and they are saying it was lung cancer. When I got to the bottom of your comment, and saw that your sister's name was also Sarah, I immediately had to sign up for this site so I could reach out to you. I want to tell you that you and your Sarah are in my thoughts.

With love,

Allison

 
 
 

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