Maria A. Mansfield
Tell Their Story
A week ago today, I lost my sister. After thirteen years of fighting courageously, she finished her race and kept her faith. I do believe she’s in a much better place now, with no suffering and no sickness.
I was blessed to make it down to Argentina, on such short notice. We actually had a life celebration instead of a funeral. Many came that day. Andrea impacted -not just our family, but all the ones who knew her throughout her life. I was both moved and honored, by the stories about her, and the legacy she left us. So many people loved her!
It reminded me of the lyrics in the “Hamilton” musical, directed by Lin Manuel Miranda; when the Original Broadway Cast sings: “When my time is up, have I done enough? -Will they tell my story? -Will they tell your story? -Who will tell their story?...” How vital it is, to tell the life story of the ones we love but lose. To pass on the shared life experiences, to keep their legacy alive and their essence intact.
How dare we say to someone: “You need to move on” when they’re attempting grief? -Doesn’t a person’s life matter after their time is up? I sure hope so! I would like to “move through” the grief process, talking about how special she was, and what she achieved in life; instead of “moving on” forgetting those memories, -just for the sake of avoiding the pain they bring.
The day she passed, was also my birthday. I have already decided on a new tradition: from now on, I will celebrate my birthday as well as her life on the same day. I will laugh at something funny she used to say or do. I will be thankful for something she taught me. I will be inspired by her common sense and relentless spirit. I will use my good dishes. Maybe wear something fancy, she would’ve picked out. Just having simple reminders of her life and how I cherished her.
The words of her Pastor at her Funeral and Burial were comforting. I know those things in my head, but I still miss her in my heart. I didn’t just lose a sister, I also lost one of my best friends in her. So naturally, the pain is there. Yet, it’s ok. If we suffer the loss it means they were deeply loved. I am grateful she was my sister and that I enjoyed her all these years.
Grief is never easy. It’s just been a week. Today was brutal! After losing two sisters plus two of my best friends, you would think, I have the grieving process down. I don’t. Why would I? Each life is special. Each one deserves tears and a foundation of happy memories to live on. I am still hopeful my grieving process might help me better understand others, who suffer a loss too.
I’m also learning a life doesn’t always fit into an 80-year box. God is the Keeper of our days. What comforts me the most, is that I know this farewell is temporary. In just a week, it's Easter. When we celebrate the Resurrected Christ, I believe in the promise of eternal life, Jesus gave us. He said in John 11:25: “I am the Resurrection and the Life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live.”
My hope is that we could live with even more intentionality and purpose so that our life legacy matters. In the meantime, I’m still going to remember my sister healthy and happy. It’s who she is. What an honor, to tell her story. It’s what we do.