Walk By Faith

reflections on losing my sister and joining the world’s greatest sisterhood

the last few months for me and my family have been rough. on february 16th, my beautiful and very young sister lost her battle to cancer. it attacked swiftly and with a vengeance and we had two years to accept and, in the end, say goodbye. my heart aches daily for our loss, for my brother and their three fabulous children, and for the rest of our family. she was my sister-in-law but trust that never ever mattered. she always introduced me as her little sister (by 13 months!!!!) and i often confused people when i talked about her because i simply called her my sister and then i’d mention her and my brother as husband and wife, and, well, you get the picture. we were close. that’s all anyone needed to know.

the wells crew minus my dad
the wells crew minus my dad

i have so many great memories of our 13 years as sisters and because we went to the same high school, i even have some hilarious memories of life before her and my brother became an item. i loved my sister so much and i miss her even more. because i live in seattle and the rest of my family lives in kansas city, i wasn’t home for much of her last days. i flew home whenever i could and i always checked in regularly but i still struggle privately with knowing i didn’t get as much time with her as everyone else. all i know is the time i was there was precious and i’ll never forget it.

when i finished grad school, i moved in with my brother and sister-in-law. i was like the live in nanny. one day my brother was packing up clothes for goodwill and somehow my entire wardrobe got caught in the mix. my brother “donated” my clothes to goodwill. i was furious and he just said, oh well, i’ll give you the tax receipt and you can deduct it! (steam-blowing commenced). my sister just went into her closet and started grabbing clothes that i could fit and gave them to me. mind you, my sissy was 5’9 and i’m barely 5’2 so this was already a difficult task. but she gave me shirts and skirts to get me started. yep, she was pretty much amazing.

my big brother and his beautiful family at my niece's graduation dinner
my big brother and his beautiful family at my niece’s graduation dinner

finding out she had cancer was devastating. especially knowing it was terminal. we had two years and we tried to make the most of it. she lived as much as she could in that time and when the cancer started to win, she spent most of her days in pain. she never complained about it. she just dealt with it and kept living. she dated her hubby, she carted the kids to practices and lessons and school functions and she went out with her friends and took girls trips. she lived. that is the legacy she left for my brother, their three children, me and our families. live!

we said goodbye to her on feb 23. and i got on a plane and flew back to seattle the very next day to continue my journey into deltaland. yes. i was becoming a delta when i lost my sister. the irony of joining the greatest sisterhood as i was saying goodbye to my sister is not lost on me. and honestly neither has sunk in. i cannot express how much i miss my sister – her smile, her laugh, her words of wisdom and her company. i am also still processing that i am a lady of distinction and a member of delta sigma theta sorority, inc.i have wanted to complete this process for so long. but i had no idea that it would happen at this time and with this tragic loss. the two are forever connected in my mind. and it’s kind of bittersweet. i really wanted to be home with my family during this time. and i really wanted to become a delta. the conflict was eating me up and there just wasn’t an easy way to say it out loud or accept it internally.

my sissy hanging out with me and my college besties (also sisters)
my sissy hanging out with me and my college besties (also sisters)

but here i am today. a very proud member of delta sigma theta. my line name was TRIumphant Journey (tre club!!!!) and it’s the most fitting way to describe this process. it was a physical, spiritual and emotional journey but i emerged triumphant. and i know my sissy would be so proud of me. i wish i could share it with her. but i will most definitely share it with my nieces — both of which were born to be amazing women of DST! they don’t know this yet but i’m already grooming them!

me with my beautiful nieces
me with my beautiful nieces

i am definitely grateful to my friends (some who just happen to be sawrahs) who were there to help me through both processes (and they continue to help as it’s still needed and welcomed) because there were so many days i just wanted to stay in bed and cry. and i had to fight the urge daily to hop on a plane and fly back to kansas city. but on the other side of this triumphant journey, i am looking forward to carrying on my sissy’s legacy through her children and through my work in delta. she has an amazing story and she’s an inspiration to me and our family. i know the world will recognize it too.

i love these women so much
i love these women so much
so much love for her!
so much love for her!

 

so much loves for these lovely ladies
so much loves for these lovely ladies

i love you sissy and i’ll always carry you in my heart!

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6 Comments

  1. Tarra Patrick says:

    Beautiful

    1. thank you! the struggle was real. but i know she’s happy so i feel like i can be free to be happy as well.

  2. Ericka Weathers says:

    Risha, this is so touching. Your strength is remarkable. Your sister would be proud. Keep being the loving, vibrant, and caring spirit that you are. Love you always!

    1. thanks ericka! i miss her so much but know she wanted us all to be happy. she was a great cheerleader for me! love you back!

  3. Karinda H. says:

    Reading this again! You are amazing, and I can imagine your sister would be proud. Your strength is a testimony for us all 🙂 You’ve learned the greatest lesson about death – we must live! I’m honored to call you friend! Love u and keep being you!

  4. Terah Holmes says:

    I commend you on your journey and commend your courage through this/that difficult time. From one the-klub of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Beta Upsilon chapter (Spr. 2k3), I support you and have nothing but love for you. Welcome to greekdom and allow us to shield you with support and further courage. Yo-Oop!

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