Here we are at my wedding 25 yrs. ago! She was my matron of honor. 4 years earlier I had been her maid of honor. She was 17 when she got married. She had always wanted to be married in April like our mom so she hadn't even graduated from high school yet. I was the old maid in our family! My mother and my sister's, even my grandmother were all barely out of high school when they got married! In this picture (which I took of a picture) her first child was barely a year old.
Carolyn was my younger sister by 2 yrs. At times my best friend and then my worst enemy! Boy did we fight as children! Mother would try and settle our "disputes" by making us draw pictures of each other! We drew some pretty hideous faces, but always, as we drew and calmed down, each picture got prettier and prettier! Carolyn was the youngest out of 4 children. There were 6 & 8 yrs. respectively between us and our older brother and sister. My sister Carolyn loved me so much! I only wish I had showed her half the love I had for her! She had a difficult and rebellious youth, but my sister's heart was so tender and loving! As I'm writing this I am want to go on about her troubled life, our difficult teenage years as our father and mother struggled with his health issues. I have eluded to his brain surgery and resulting disability and the need for my mother to go to work in previous posts. My sister had her own set of issues which I cannot divulge but they only added to the turmoil of a young teenage girl. When I look back now, I think I handled these desperate years by taking control of the household as best I could while my mother went back to work and concerned herself with my father's health. Good Lord, I was no angel by any means! But I find that if something is bothering me I will seek out someone to talk to. Carolyn kept things to herself. When things in our lives are taken completely out of our hands there are those of us who grasp for what we can control and give the rest to God. Then there are those of us who seem tossed about on a rolling sea with no control as to where the tides will take us. That was my sister. I know that when things around here get too crazy I automatically start cleaning and organizing. Hey! You'd think my house would be spotless! (LOL) And the whole time I am working I am praying. I think my sister spent her life on the rolling sea without a life preserver, struggling not to drown. And then finally the only control she could muster was to let herself drown. Do I blame myself? People will advise you not to blame yourself for other's behavior. "Laura, it wasn't your fault she killed herself!" "Don't blame yourself!" The last time I saw my sister alive she was standing at her door waving goodbye to me as I left for the 6 hr. trip home from NW Arkansas to Memphis. She asked me to call her when I got home. I didn't. She called me. You see, it had been an emotionally exhausting visit. She had divorced her husband of 21 years just about 7 or 8 months before. She had been struggling with issues I cannot divulge but I knew she was suffering greatly! I wanted time alone with her to talk and visit. There was a man she was hanging out with and she seemed to want to spend more time with him than me. I didn't like this man and I didn't like the way she was living her life. I should've called her when I got home. She needed God so badly! But some people will not open that door for whatever reason they have come up with. I believe it was because she thought she was not worthy of His love and thusly believed Him to be more of a vengeful and judging God rather than loving and forgiving. I prayed the 6 hour drive to her house that summer of 2002 that God would give me all the right words and actions to help her open her heart to Him and if not me, then give someone else in her life the words! I know that I came across preachy sometimes when I would try and witness to her. I prayed for God to lead me. It only works if it comes from God! To this day I don't know what happened on that trip. Her suicide note was dated the day after I left. But it was to be about 2 weeks later she finally gave up her struggle. Giving it to God, I trust Him that my sister was so far gone in her struggles that peace for her on earth was not to be and only coming home to Him would she find the peace she so needed. In my heart this was not her choice. She was not able to make a rational choice, but God knows what we do not. He took her home. We played "In the Arms of the Angels" by Sara McClaughlin at her funeral. No, it is not my fault that my sister is gone from this earth but....I didn't love her enough. I didn't love her unconditionally. I know that we are not responsible for another's actions, but we are responsible for our own and I know now that I should have been praying for my ears and heart to be open to see where Carolyn was, how much she was hurting. If I had paid attention to the signs. The shotgun resting against the wall in the kitchen. The bills piled up on the kitchen table. The hopelessness I could feel in that house. I wish I had paid attention! Why don't we pay attention to each other? Jesus said the greatest commandment of all is to love God and to love yourself as you love God and then to love one another as you love yourself. Paul told us what love is: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1Cor. 13:4-7 I didn't love my sister this way. Do any of us love like this? "I" have not loved like this! Do you have any idea how many people commit suicide?! Suicide is an act of desperation and hopelessness. Why are there so many desperate people with no hope out there today? People need attention and appreciation so badly. I learned that I have a responsibility as a child of God to show love. We should go out of our way to show love, God's love, to everyone we meet. Maybe, just maybe, if we did, there would be more people feeling loved and appreciated and not desperate and alone.I know this post is extremely long and I thank God for you if you've journeyed with me this far but I would like to share this prayer that we recited at my sister's funeral.
" God of us all, we thank you for Christ's grace, thru which we pray to you in this dark hour. A life we love has been torn from us. Expectations the years once held have vanished. The mystery of death has stricken us. O God, you know the lives we live and the deaths we die, woven so strangely of purpose and of chance, of reason and of the irrational, of strength and of fraility, of happiness and of pain. No mortal life you have made is without eternal meaning. No earthly fate is beyond your redeeming. Thru your grace that can do far more than we can think or imagine, fulfill in us your purpose that reaches beyond time and death. Lead us from strength to strength, and fit us for love and service in your kingdom. Into your hands we commit our lives. You alone, God, make us to dwell in safety. Whom, finally have we on earth or in heaven but you? Help us to know the measure of our day, and how frail we are. Hold us in your keeping. Forgive us our sins. Save our minds from despair and our hearts from fear. And guard and guide us with your peace." ~~ Amen Carolyn I miss you so very, very much!