by Wendy Organ
My older sister, Karen, was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer at age 45. An avid mountain biker and camper, devoted mother to her daughters, Trinity and McKenzie, Karen walked her cancer road with quiet grace and humbled stoicism. Her diagnosis, illness, and passing have changed the shape of our family, and we are a stronger unit because of her: we are closer to her husband than we were before; we are more in-tune of each other’s needs; we are more forgiving of the little things that once seemed huge. This is my tribute to her remarkable legacy of loving dedication to her family and a shout-out to the extraordinary woman she was.
The sun blinks the day awake.
Birds begin their morning song
and we are still here in a state of wanting you.
We wear our loneliness as a warm coat on a crisp November morn,
wrapping ourselves in its folds,
protecting us from the onslaught of the non-mourners
who pity us and keep their distance
afraid of catching our sorrow.
Some days I am afraid I’ll never escape this need of cocooning.
Some days I question my being,
for I have never existed without you, Sister. Never.
So how can I continue when your presence is only manifested by my memories?
This missing you feels gargantuan.
And so, like Gulliver, I imagine you on a piece of paper as a Lilliputian
So I can fold you up and carry you in my breast pocket.
But you were not one for fairy tales.
No, you were more like Gulliver himself,
finding adventures to fill
returning with stories of great heights and views that go on forever.
You stood and breathed in the beauty as the sunrise kissed the tops of the Trinity Alps.
You laughed as you heard the tap, tap, tapping of the waters dance down the McKenzie River.
You smiled your sweet, sweet smile, radiating warmth like the sun itself when you began your greatest adventure by saying I do.
And so this paper on which these memories now live,
I do fold but into an origami bird,
and like those feathers perched in the soul of hope,
I let you go
and you soar.
Bio: Wendy Organ lives in Woodinville, Washington, with her husband, 2 children and a golden retriever.
She teaches French at a local high school and is a 6-year survivor of a non-malignant brain tumor. She has found poetry a satisfying method of processing life’s issues.