How do you tell people about a death?  I’ve had plenty of practice this year; you’d think I’d know by now.  My sister died.  Younger, ‘little’ sister. She was kind, unpretentious, had an infectious and conspiratorial giggle, and was waiting for medical discharges to marry a man completely devoted to her.

Sharma morningI’ve been with my parents, sleeping in the bed I shared with Sharma. What does it mean when you sleep with a sister for your entire childhood?  Are your dreams forever woven?  When I asked if she minded my frozen feet sneaking under her warmness at night, she just said, ‘Nah.’  She loved an older sister enough to tolerate anything. I’d love to know what she really thought. About a lot of things.

I keep walking outside to look at the trees and feel the breeze. Everything else is just surreal. She isn’t here, calling me ‘Sis,’ giggling, and just…being a sister.

The range of condolences has felt weird. Why tell me you’re sorry or shocked, I want you to tell her.  Equally pointless. We want to say something; I guess whatever comes out that’s genuine and heartfelt.

Completely so was the young stranger in a red OSU jersey who strode into the funeral home. Tears iSharma birthdayn his eyes and clutching a handful of postage stamps, he babbled something about working with Sharma and being a customer.  She was a mail carrier, and he wanted to put a stamp on her.  They don’t make one to get you to Heaven, so a regular one would do.

When I tell the truth, My sister died, instead of the sugarcoat, In Ohio for a family emergency, the conversation always ends with You’ll be in my prayers.  From folks I know have good prayers, so you’d think I’d be able to say that truth.

The other truth is that she isn’t really gone. Even though we weren’t close, she’s still in my bones. Giggling on the edges of my dreams, warming my heart.