I’m Running Out of July

I’ve got only a couple of days before the month of July is over … to which I say, Good riddance, July! For those of you new to my blog, let me start with the painful acknowledgment of my sister’s death late on July 1. For context, I have three siblings and our birth order is as follows: oldest sister (C), Shirley, brother (G), and, finally, me. Shirley is (and always will be) my second sister, separated in age by just over 11 years. As I was growing up, she was probably more of a babysitter than a sister to me, an authoritative but protective figure; hence, my primal scream when I learned of her death.

We went to the viewing, the funeral, and the burial with my 98-year-old mother in tow. Admittedly, I was initially surprised that my mom wanted to go at all. The grief etched on her face was often difficult to bear. No parent should outlive their child, and the anguish in her open-mouthed but silent howl broke our hearts many times over. After the burial, when I thought for sure she’d head for her bed, she sat in her chair and asked, “So what’s next? Where are we going?”

“To the Auspelmyer’s [my sister’s home]. There will be food. Do you want to come?”

“Well, yeah. I don’t want to miss anything.”

I think I found the secret to my mother’s longevity: She doesn’t want to miss anything.

I want to share this memorial card. I think it was my oldest nephew who selected the poem. It’s perfect. It’s how I want to think of Shirley. Not gone, but always with us, in our hearts.

Here also is a link to her obituary: Shirley Auspelmyer. If you have time, a lovely 9-minute video is also on the website.

Shirley and I started to become close after I left home and crashed my way into adulthood. With every passing year, we missed each other more. When both of us started showing gray hair, the difference between us of 11 years became irrelevant. It didn’t matter that we were a bit like night and day. Shirley had embraced the life of a traditional wife, marrying at 19 and embarking on her sole mission in life: raising a family. She wanted children and grandchildren. She especially loved babies.

I didn’t marry until I was 32 and after I had made sure I’d never have children. I like kids well enough, and I always had fun playing with my grandniece and grandnephews when I visited home. But I didn’t have a mission in life, a desire to propagate unless you consider raising a herd of cats a mission. Although we had our differences, and maybe because of those differences, my sister knew me better than I often knew myself.

For my 30th birthday, she sent me a book of poems. Does anyone recognize this book? I’ve kept it now for 35 years. The pages are brittle but still intact.

Shirley attached a note with the book, and I’ve opened the book to a poem that reminds me of my sister.

The “Ted” she refers to was our neighbor who treated us as if we were his own children. Growing up, Saturdays were shopping days with Ted. He’d buy us anything we wanted. As we got older, Shirley and I became less interested in what Ted might buy us and more satisfied just being with him.

I miss my sister. I won’t ever stop missing her, but I know I need to resume my life. I’m taking baby steps. I’m in no hurry.

36 thoughts on “I’m Running Out of July

  1. There is no hurry, grief takes as long as it takes. I’m glad to read you are having some happy memories, too. I believe that it is in the happy we remember that we most heal.

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    1. Thank you, dear Jill. My mom is actually a little scary … she’s been sounding really good lately … lol. Still, she’s given up her jigsaw puzzles. She says she just can’t concentrate on them. She still does scratch-offs, though 🙂 ❤


  2. No, you will never stop missing her, but thank you for sharing her with us, Marie. This post is a very special tribute. The video was lovely. I’m glad you can think of the funny, happy moments. Sending hugs. 💙

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  3. There’s no time limit to grief and in my experience it does get less painful, just less raw. The books, the letter, the poem… incredible memories. I hated when people said things like “sorry for your loss” so instead I’m just going to tell you that I hope you’ll feel less raw sooner rather than later and that I’m praying for you (which if you don’t believe in God, means that you’re on my mind).

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  4. My deepest sympathies go out to you and your family.
    I agree with LaShelle’s comment. You never forget, it still hurts, BUT it’s less raw and more bittersweet as time passes.
    To answer your direct question: Yes, I recognize that book and the series of books she wrote back in the day.

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      1. Yes. We learn to live with it and the pain lessens, replaced with warmth of memories. Not that there aren’t moments, of course. It just becomes a part of us.

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        1. I worry more about my brother-in-law. They were married for 56 years, and he’ll tell you she was the only woman he ever loved. Fortunately, he has a strong family network, and he understands he’ll be hurting for a long time. Still, my heart often aches more for him than for myself.

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          1. Men have more trouble than women (in general) dealing with the loss of their loved one. I think Mick would have been a royal mess if I had left before he did.
            They often, either never find someone else or find another really quickly. I refuse to judge those who choose the latter. One does not remove the love for the other but not all can live alone, you know?
            Very happy he has a wonderfully strong family network to help him.

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            1. Indeed, I think living alone is harder for men. My husband would say no to that because he’s such an introvert, but there’s a difference between just living alone and being lonely. For now, his family is giving him a lot of support. Of course, we’re all hurting too but it helps to share the hurt.

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              1. We are generalizing but yeah 😉
                And yes, there is a huge difference. A friend of mine’s mother died last year – age of 93. Her husband, 95 or 96 now, is still thriving. Three of his four kids are not far and the fourth goes up to visit often.
                It definitely helps to share the hurt.

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  5. Nice, Marie Ann! Lots of ove there which is easy to understand, knowing you. And now knowing the special bond between you and Shirley, also…. I like the simplicity of your writing even more now!
    Thanks for sharing this difficult time. Hugs to you, and to Greg./Leo likewise from Jennifer.

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  6. I’ve been thinking about you all month, Marie. Such a difficult thing to go through and accept, but my only consolation when this kind of grief comes around is that old saying that a person isn’t gone until the last person who knew her is gone. You’ll be keeping your sister alive in your heart for a long time to come.

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