Coffee Break

Exactly one year ago on a beautiful autumn afternoon, my sister and I were shopping at IKEA going over our Christmas lists and wishes. We drank our delicious Swedish coffee and talked about how much we miss our grandma. We shared many fun traveling ideas and the more coffee we drank, the more excited we seemed about potentially booking a trip in the upcoming month or two. Preferably a cross country road trip. Her top choice of travel…

Was it that boosting caffeine that kept our conversations bright and cheery? Was it because we were chatting at our favorite spot with limited kid interruptions that are so common at home? Or was it because our shopping cart was filled with trendy household items including lamps, pillowcases, flatware, towels, frames, candles and plants? I’m quite certain it was all of that in addition to the sisterly “high” you get when joy and laughter overflow bonding two closest female hearts together…

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Any sister out there knows just what I’m talking about…

Maybe we could head to Poland for just a week and spend our holidays with aunts and uncles we haven’t seen in years…

Maybe we could book a quick flight to Sweden or Norway, just the two of us and sit next to a cozy fireplace warming our inner souls, momentarily blocking out Iza’s “cancer metastases” concerns and diffusing life’s most simple worries.  All while easing my sister’s unbearable rheumatoid arthritis , neuropathy and ankylosing spondylitis which were deteriorating her skeletal system rapidly…

Maybe rent a cabin high up within the Smoky Mountains, drink hot cocoa in giant holiday mugs and watch the snowflakes melt away in the night sky?

Maybe we could just pack up and take a day trip around Lake Michigan?

How about? What about? What if? Or maybe…

The ideas were coming, comforting us in every way as the holiday season neared. Not once did I think this might have been my last Thanksgiving or Christmas with my one and only sister. As insanely critical as her cancer was, stealing away our days together, it didn’t cross my mind that I would lose her soon. She was so strong in my eyes. Now leaning on God’s hope with each breath she took and each day she faced. It seemed very wrong to even think of her dying because in my heart she was unbeatable.  She would win this battle. I had faith in her recovery. Her cancer would rush off somewhere into thin air, leave her alone and not come back. But I was wrong…

God had other plans for Iza and He knew then that eternal life was upon her.

Her time with me in this world ended when cancer took her from me. Yet my eternal conversations with her had just begun. Our sister bond is now time unlimited. We talk all the time because in essence, her soul resides in my heart and she will remain within me forever. She guides my days and shows me the way.  She is my sister angel. My sister love. And we will always find time for each other…

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Christmas 2010

I will never forget my sister’s willingness to live each day with a grateful heart. Especially in those last few months. And regardless of my sister’s excruciating pains that she fought daily, her mental health was solid and fierce. She was seriously made of stone. Cancer wasn’t strong enough to break apart her determination to still see the world her way. The parts she hasn’t seen and still felt she could. In a car. A plane. A train. Whatever it took. Road trips were always her favorite. Especially towards the end of her life. She always mentioned how peaceful the rides were. Reminded her a lot of our native country. The Eastern European Polish roots that we were, are and always will be so proud of. Those serene country roads that stretched for miles and miles…

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Her eagerness to travel was quite impressive. If she was willing to travel in her withering “on the edge of fainting any moment” condition, I promised to lessen my complaints about everyday life bumps that I experience as a “healthy cancer-free” human.

“I’m so exhausted. Beyond stressed. Overwhelmed.” And the list goes on. Yes we all have those days. However, I am cancer-free and that’s a blessing. An incredible blessing which I can’t thank God enough for. Another day given with countless reasons to live it. A blessing. A life and all the people in it. And so much is in a given day to love…

If we only put ourselves in the physical state of a cancer patient for one hour, then we’d get a tiny glimpse of what exhaustion or pain really is. Believe me when I say, cancer patients do not sleep for weeks and sometimes months. I’ve seen it right in front of me. Iza was up throughout the night for over a year. And after hundreds of procedures, tests, surgeries, blood draws, needle pricks, countless medications and those enduring pains that come with chemotherapy, she kept going. Fighting. Reassuring me she’s alright. No matter how emancipated her body was becoming, she rarely complained about her struggle here in this world.  I mean, how is that even possible? Seriously.

Incredible strength. Courage to live. Appreciation of the unknown…

Life itself is such an abundant gift and I cannot imagine living, (just living and breathing) with cancer beside me.  How do cancer patients do it while working, caring for others, sacrificing so much while being a parent, a spouse, a child, a sibling all while enduring such pains? I just cannot envision how one does it. Through all the unimaginable, one must go on. No matter what. Life goes on and we must live on…

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Below are some of my sister’s favorite verses which she highlighted in her bible thus bringing peace to her life near the end…

“Don’t worry, because I am with you. Don’t be afraid because I am your God. I will make you strong and I will help you; I will support you with my right hand that saves you.” – Isaiah 41:10

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain because all the old ways are gone.” – Revelation 21:4

“Give thanks to the Lord because He is good. His love continues forever,” – Psalm 136-1

 

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She knew in her heart God was preparing her for the other side. He was her spiritual guidance, ultimate healer, Heavenly Father and best friend along the way.  He never left her side. She knew very well that her passage towards a pain-free life was ahead.  Her faith was growing and God was counting the days she would finally be home.

Her eternal home with babcia beside her…

 

As Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote, “The ones we meet in heaven are the ones we have loved the most and who preceded us in death.” So I strongly believe that my sister was ready for that encounter many months before her actual death. She knew babcia was waiting for her with open arms and she was ecstatic to see the one person she loved the most. Our beloved grandma. An incredible woman who now cares for my sister in heaven.

I am so happy that she’s finally home, one without pain or worries. An eternal bliss that fills the air with love and gratitude. And that’s where she belongs. Where all of us belong once God decides to take us home…

Forever and always…

“Hope heaven has unlimited coffee grinds, creamer and honey because I look forward to a Swedish cup of caffeine with you soon, Izunia. And this time without cancer in our way. Only laughter and lots of giggles. Love you so much!” -Ewelinka

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “Coffee Break

  1. As always Amiga, so beautifully written and well expressed. Iza and I are so proud of how strong you’ve become trying to live each day without your beloved sister.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much amiga. I miss her so much and it is so tough writing these posts. There is a ton that reminds me of her everyday and yet I have to live without her. So heartbreaking especially now as the holidays are coming. My first Christmas without her 😢

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  2. Your sister was one of the strongest people I’ve ever met. She had the courage and strength like no one I have ever seen. You should be so proud she is your sister. Love you and I love the way you express your feelings in your writing. So proud of you

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for supporting my memoir about one of the strongest women on the planet. I miss her so much and writing has helped big time with grieving. It is so hard thinking she won’t be around this holiday season. Emotions are at their peak.

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  3. Your blog made me cry I feel your pain my heart goes out to You but I’m glad you have the courage to share it with us . I know it’s very hard I’m sure your sister is watching over You and your family . You are writing about your sisters incredible strength but I believe you are as strong as she was . Her suffering ended she is with God now .Sending prayers 🙏

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you. I hope you’re healing well. I know you lost your brother and I truly understand your grief. Losing a sibling is such a difficult part of someone’s life. However, knowing they’re doing great in heaven under God’s care eases some of the pain we feel. Keeping you in my prayers.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It is very hard to be so sick and than deal with work, kids,life issues. I wish I can be so strong like Iza,stop worrying and believe everything be ok. I am glad that she found peace and God, I admire her strenght and no complains how this can be possible when you have so much going on. I know she is a angle now and will look over you.

    Liked by 1 person

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