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A POEM FOR MY SISTER

Only Raeleen can know how much we truly loved her, and miss her . . . the depth of loss which we all felt and still feel.



MAY 1995 (for big sis)





We waited with you on the shore.

We waited for you to cross --

to put your white feet in the stream.



You didn't want to go.

You were afraid.

You wanted to stay with us.



We wanted you to stay with us, too.

We didn't much like waiting there on the shore.

But they said you had to go, the doctors,

"and pretty soon, too," they said.



Just like that man, a long time ago,

in the Garden of Gethsemane.

He didn't much want to go either,

but he did, and everybody was happy,

and people still talk about it.

It was glorious.



So we stood there with you, waiting.

And it was awful.

And you were afraid.

And we couldn't hear ourselves think over the rushing of that river.



None of us could see beauty in the river that day.

Everybody hates good-byes --

(God only knew when we'd ever see you again).

Fear and good-byes -- they always darken things.



Maybe we didn't believe you were really going.

Some of us had stuff to do, and we had to turn away

from the riverbank for a while.

We said we'd be back soon.

And you were tired and a little crazed from looking at the water,

so you said you'd sleep a while.



And Mom put her face very close to yours

and kissed you, and we all said good-bye.

I touched your cheek. It was so soft, so sweet.





II



Then a call rang out.

Someone said -- she's going! She's gone!

We all rushed back to the banks of that lonely crossing,

but you had left without us.

Dad was there, and he was crying,

and he pointed across the water.

We all looked, but there was a fog on the other shore,

and we couldn't make out your form.



Everybody was crying and holding each other.

Mom said, -- Oh, she didn't wait! Oh, my precious baby!

And some of us fell a little way into the river,

but everybody helped pull us back.

They didn't want us yet, over there, on the other side.



Then someone said -- but I think I saw her cross over.

I saw two figures helping her across -- steadying her.

Angels maybe! And she didn't look scared.



And we all looked over the rushing water

and tried to imagine it. We tried to imagine

you making your way. It was hard to imagine.

It was hard to imagine angels, too, having never seen any.



We stood there and listened to the water.

Someone said -- I hear her laughing!

And I said -- No. Why would she be laughing?

And someone else said -- because it's beautiful over there.



Then we all heard it -- your voice --

your laughing, happy, unselfconscious voice.

And it was beautiful!

Some of us wept harder as we listened until it was gone.



We waited with you on that shore.

We waited for you to cross --

to put your white feet in the stream.



You didn't want to go.

You were afraid.

You wanted to stay with us.



Maybe you're happier now.

Maybe it's easier over there.

Maybe it's beautiful.

Maybe that's why they don't let everyone over at once.

Maybe we should get ready for our own time to go.

Maybe we'll be happy there, too.



God knows we do so many stupid things over here.

And we clutter up our lives with stuff and junk and misery.

But, we waited with you over here.

Now, you wait over there

for us.



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J.E. Carlsson