Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ode to Georgie

She made sure to touch me. It was good luck, of course. Not an obvious touch, that would appear too strange, just a bony elbow touching mine. Firmly. Or her foot on top of mine, lightly but deliberately.

Good Luck.

My sister was afraid to fly. But fly she did because it took her to exotic locals. Like my sister I live for travel. I die in between my trips.

But I’m not afraid to fly. But I’m also accustomed to superstition. Why not be on the safe side? I have taught my children and my husband that indeed we must touch on every take off and landing--a family connection so strong that airplanes bursting into flames would become impossible. I have no idea how my sister came up with this particular OCD type habit. But it has stuck.

I think that last time I flew with Georgie, we were on our way to spend Christmas in Zermatt, Switzerland. I believe the year was 1988. I’m sure one of our body parts touched on the way up and the way down. I am also sure she placed me by the window so every half hour she could ask me to look outside and tell her if the plane was in a tail spin, plunging to the earth below, in a fiery blaze of fury.

“No, the plane is still flying,” I would try and reassure her.

Of course, she also had a difficult time with the bathrooms on the airplanes. She tried to make like a camel and sit through eleven hours of flying without ridding herself of any waste. But sometimes, her bladder got the better of her.

I was called in for such emergencies. “Stand by the door,” she would command. The thought of locking herself into the tiny deathtrap of a room was an unbearable thought.

I was the devoted little sister who stood patiently outside her bathroom door.

I wasn’t afraid to pee thousands of miles in the air. Not in the least. But I understood her fear on some pure level. No words were spoken. They didn’t need to be. I understood my sister.

She understood me.

I stood and guarded the bathroom door. I reassured her that the plane was still flying on course. And I made sure to be present on take off and landings when she needed to touch me.

No words were necessary. The unspoken friendship of siblings completed me.

My son Kyle has some of my sister’s phobias. He didn’t get them from her. She died when Kyle was in my uterus.

He represented life when the world looked as bleak as a world could be. Not just for me, but for everyone who loved Georgie. And there were many people who did.

Yes, poor Kyle had to bear all the love we had for Georgie and all the love we had for him. He was smothered in love. He was life, he was laughter, he was hope.

He is now an almost grown man.

I am acutely aware of the significance of his birth and its link to the death of my sister. I am holding tight to his lightness as he gets ready to leave home for brighter pastures.

I will not hold him back. I am resolute if not on shaky ground. The ground feels surreal. I never knew earth could move so quickly and violently.

Still I am steadfast.

He made sure to touch my hand as we landed at Los Angeles International Airport from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle on December 30th, 2010.

Gentle was his touch. But he touched me with intent. He wanted me to know he was there.

I have never been good at beginnings or endings.

I’m not sure I’m even good at the middle stuff.

I know, like my sister I live for the travels I take. I die in the moments in between.

Life with Kyle is like one big trip. I have been awake and alive.

Heaven sent by my sister. She didn’t have to say a word.


  1. that is such a wonderful loving tribute. It's a big deal getting someone ready for college, one of my best friends just packed her boy off to SLO this last weekend.It's a big step.

  2. Amen to what Kathy said. I think your son is simply lovely. I'm sure your sister was too.

  3. Powerful journey we are all on. I see how strongly you carry your sister in your living heart and transcendent soul... and I know she will help you manage this next poignant but also joyous separation in the service of growth (on both sides). All Good Wishes

  4. Terry, this had me in tears. Such a poignant post and a lovely tribute to both your sister and your son. Thanks for your truth. It was powerful.

  5. Geez, where have I been that I missed this? Lovely, lovely, Terry. Seeing the connection between your sister and Kyle, the link that is you. Really lovely.

  6. Such a wonderful tribute. Truly an inspiration. Excellent read. Thanks.

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  7. T...
    I just read this posting, as I was wondering right now, in mid May, what is Kyle up to? What did he decide? I got a lot more than I thought I would, reading your tribute to Geor... Your emotive writing really reaches people, Terry. Seeing your picture, on the beach just seals the deal.. all in a few words and a single frame. You are brilliant, I know you don't know it... but my antennae are tingling at the sensation... you are a 'tingler'. Love you... T

  8. This is an amazing piece of writing! I enjoyed reading your insanely great post! Thanks for sharing! Keep it up!