My Sister, My Friend, My Mentor

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In January, our family carries the burden of a painful memory. It is in this month that we experienced the sudden loss of my sister. This heartbreaking event left her husband, parents, and other family members overwhelmed with despair. Additionally, we had to consider the needs of a newborn child who was now motherless. Coping with such a tragedy seemed insurmountable and finding a way to move forward and rekindle love and care for each other felt impossible.

Throughout my life, the pain of losing my sister Denise has haunted me. Regardless of whether I’m a teenager or an adult, every January brings back memories that deeply ache in my heart. It has been more than 30 years since her death, yet the question of why she had to go still consumes me daily.

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Denise was one of my siblings, along with two sisters and one brother. We were our family’s composition alongside our mother and father. She had so much to anticipate and was genuinely happy. However, when she turned 18 years old, right after graduating from high school and becoming a first-time mother herself, something unexpected occurred — her tragic demise.

Denise possessed a unique aura, holding the key to her own happiness. Sadly, that brilliance faded when she passed away. Neistat 2. Not only was Denise my sister, but she was also my friend and mentor, always radiating joy and vitality. She thoroughly enjoyed attending high school soccer games and social gatherings as we both cheered on the teams. In her eyes, I could see her deep interest and passion for soccer reflected. As my older sister, she was stuck with me following her everywhere; however, I willingly accompanied her because I admired and looked up to her as my elder sibling.

Accompanying Denise, I could feel her tense and uncomfortable state, but I enjoyed being with her. From an early age, Denise found her soulmate in Dan. They had been classmates from kindergarten to high school. Everyone knew how much he loved her; his devotion and concern for her were constant reminders of his loyalty. Shortly before Denise graduated from high school, she learned that she was pregnant with Dan’s child, even though they were not married yet. Our household experienced a lot of tension for several months because society did not approve of unwed pregnancies.

Regardless, the families welcomed the concept that a new life was valuable to all. They wedded and began living joyfully as one. The tremendous happiness stemming from her pregnancy was apparent to others; becoming a mother brought her immense bliss and satisfaction. Equally momentous was the arrival of her initial offspring. Our families were brimming with great joy and happiness – it marked the first grandchild, the first nephew, and our inaugural encounter observing the marvel of existence. Our parents absolutely adored this little grandson, who bestowed so much radiance upon our lives.

Neistat, with his three eyes and sparse hair, is a precious diamond that shines brightly in his eyes. Initially, as an aunt, I had concerns about how his presence would affect my relationship with my sister. Nevertheless, I quickly discovered that our friendship would thrive, albeit with some modifications. This tiny miracle altered my outlook and enabled me to value Neistat’s distinct qualities. Like his mother, I also developed an affection for him, and we became both siblings and friends.

Miracles happen daily, but for our family, this was our November miracle. Born on the birthdays of both his grandfather and my father, this child brought immense pride to his grandfather. To his grandfather, he was a precious miracle of life who would never lack anything; if it were up to his grandfather, he would have the entire world. However, a month later, Denise fell terribly ill without any apparent warning signs. Weak, sick, and admitted to the hospital for unknown reasons – we were completely clueless about what could be happening.

How can something like this happen so suddenly, unaware of any terminal illness in the family or with Denise? Over a month of time, she gradually deteriorated in her body, mind, and soul. Her weakness was so overpowering for her; even the weight of her son was unbearable for her to handle. She became disoriented and delirious with fever and sickness; admitted to Incarnate Ward Hospital on a Friday with extremely abnormal liver enzymes and a severely weak heart, she fell into a coma on late Saturday afternoon and passed away the following Sunday.

Neistat 4. The families were shocked and dismayed, unable to believe what happened. I felt immense sorrow for my parents. They had just become grandparents and their first child had given birth to their first grandchild. The look of despair in their eyes, the loss of hope and love, is something I will never forget.

The birth of my niece brought immense joy and completeness to my parents’ lives; however, it was all taken away when she passed away at the age of eighteen with a heart that seemed older than its years. We still do not have answers to the events that led to her death. Our questions remain unanswered, lost, and even our faith has begun to waver.

Despite questioning the existence of a higher power and grappling with the actions taken, we recognized the importance of healing for our families’ progress. The process was arduous but necessary for both our emotional recovery and spiritual growth. Ultimately, Denise will always occupy an irreplaceable spot in my heart – her presence eternal. Through devastating circumstances, we acquire life lessons and endeavor to overcome them, regardless of how bleak they may appear. In doing so, we come to cherish and value the precious gift that is life.

Every January, I reflect on my deep longing for my sister, friend, and mentor. I eagerly hope for the opportunity to reunite with her and discover how she has grown. Will she still possess the same qualities that I remember, but even more pronounced? Has our mentoring bond thrived? How comforting it would be to hear her voice, laughter, and reassuring words as my sister, assuring me that everything will be alright. My love for her endures just as fervently as ever while I eagerly anticipate our eventual reunion.

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My Sister, My Friend, My Mentor. (2017, Feb 18). Retrieved from

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