Sadly, all cups of morning coffee cannot hold back memories etched and sewn into the heart for a loved one that has passed. This will be an emotional story for some and much shorter than it could be. It is emotional beyond words for me, but one I feel deserves a moment in time. In an earlier blog, I wrote that my sister Brenda was destined to be forever young at the age of 27. The last time I saw her was on Easter Sunday, April 14, 1974, I was 15. I can see my small nephew, not quite six years old dressed in his Easter suit hunting Easter eggs with my baby sister Cindy at the community Easter egg hunt at the city park in Paducah, Texas. David was only six months older than Cindy. Brenda seemed well and was always happy to be with her family, except that she was a little too thin and was four months pregnant. She was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, but the doctors didn’t seem to be alarmed at the time. She was excited to be having another baby and couldn’t wait for my nephew David to have a playmate. My nephew was the love of her life and it is sad that she didn’t get to live long enough to raise him so that he could see with absolute recognition what I write. She and her small family lived in Childress, Texas. Brenda had beautiful straight teeth with a smile that could make the sun go down. None of us knew at the time how lucky we were to have one of God’s own in our presence. But, this day she looked beautiful. It was an era of Marlo Thomas hair. Her hair was a chestnut brown, not quite shoulder length and slightly flipped on the ends with a thick hair band. Her eyes were blue, and her skin was virtually flawless. Isn’t it strange the beauty we are allowed to keep from those who have long since gone? It’s like a ghost that can’t find its way back to them. I’m glad it can’t find its way back to her, for she left such an impression, it is impossible to forget. She was my sister, yet she was my mini-mom too. I miss her. Brenda was a little thing, and although she told everyone she was five feet tall, she still lacked a fraction. So, my last memory of her is one to be cherished. For on Saturday June 29th, 1974 we notice a ritzy looking black car coming down the old dirt road. It was going too fast, with billows of dirt that looked like a sandstorm following it. As it approached the house, we knew it would be no ordinary day. Two men stepped out of the car, all dressed up in what looked to be their Sundays best. They came up to the house, stepped up on the tall, cement porch and told us Brenda had died that morning. We didn’t have a phone, so I guess this was the alternative used to inform people of bad news. Immediately part of our world had ended. The two men returned to their car, their job had been done, only to return about an hour or so later, I’m not sure, it’s been a while. One of the men came to the door and told my dad that Brenda was still alive but was in a grave condition. You see, Brenda was six months pregnant and her gestational diabetes had turned into full-fledged Diabetes Mellitus. I remember staying at home, not going to the hospital. I stayed home I suppose with the younger brothers and little sister. Rodney was never told he was her favorite, but we all knew he was. That was ok, she always had plenty of herself to go around, besides, going to the hospital wasn’t somewhere we needed to be. The story goes like this, Brenda awoke that morning feeling really bad. Her husband had already gone to work. Brenda called her sister n law and asked her to take her to the ER. Why she waited in the ER so long has always been a mystery, for she walked in, but didn’t get to walk out. As she was admitted into the hospital, she slipped into a diabetic coma, a darkness that had no light switch to turn on. After mom and dad got to the hospital, Brenda lived about eight more hours. She didn’t have the chance to say goodbye and neither did we. David will never know the void she left and how much space her little body took up in our lives and hearts. It will soon be 44 years; the closure has not completely come, and I still hear I Don’t Know Who Holds Tomorrow nearly every day. “Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand- But I know who holds tomorrow And I know who holds my hand”. These are the words I know Brenda tells us in the stillness of her memory. When we say the old or ill see the light to Jesus, I know part of that light is her, I just know it! What Brenda gave us when she left was the ability to accept loss, the ability to rebound from the unimaginable and the necessity to always say “I love you one more time”. I love you Brenda!
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