blue eyes pierce spring sky
join me on the river boat–
making our way home
* * * * *
Early Easter Morning 1949, Diane was born–Sister #3 with brilliant, piercing blue eyes. On February 13, 2006, she died after living with ALS for ten years. The haiku above was inspired by a dream I had in November 2009.
Here’s the dream, followed by a few comments:
I’m at a gathering of people. My husband is also there. Suddenly I catch sight of Diane! She’s looking alive, moving on her own (though a bit slowly), and is—as far as I can tell—acting independently of any nurses or family caretakers.
At first I see her as though I’ve just discovered one of my sisters who happens to be at this gathering, too. I’m thrilled, and want to go talk to her and take in some recreational activities with her.
A bit later I realize she ‘shouldn’t’ be here! She’s gone. She died of ALS. So why did I see her?
Crowds are milling around, pressing in very tightly, making it difficult to get to the spot where I can see and talk with her. I don’t know whether she’s seen me yet. There’s an optional boat ride later to tour the river. It seems to be the river we grew up on in Savannah.
I decide to get Diane and ride with her in the boat. We can talk and catch up and see old familiar places from a different perspective. Her presence is a gift—and will be gone when this event comes to an end.
I’m excited, happy, and eager to hear what she might say to me. I haven’t heard her voice or been able to relate to her as a fully functioning sister for years. I also don’t know how long her present embodiment will last. I wake up longing to be with her on the riverboat.
Lent and Easter always bring Diane to mind. One of my tasks during therapy was to connect with each of my three sisters. We hadn’t been in close touch with each other for years. “I’m doing personal work with a therapist. Would you be willing to talk privately with me, one on one, about this work?”
Diane agreed to talk with me. We had multiple long-distance conversations. She listened, confirmed, added her memories and made astute, sometimes sad observations. In 1993, she flew from Texas to Georgia to witness the meeting with my parents. Diane sat on one side of me; my husband sat on the other. Silent witnesses while I broke my decades-long silence about my father’s harsh punishment.
Three years later Diane was formally diagnosed with ALS. For the next ten years she showed us how to live and how to die with grace and dignity, without once pretending everything was fine, just fine.
Thanks for stopping by today. I pray we’ll find peace, comfort and courage to face each day with its sadness and joy.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 March 2022
Photo of Diane and Elouise by the Savannah River,
taken by DAFraser on 20 November 1993