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When Gail was a baby, she took longer than usual to start talking.  She didn’t need to talk.  She had a big sister to speak for her and make sure she got what she wanted and needed.  Perhaps there is a symmetry to life as I find myself speaking here today.  Gail was my baby sister.

There was less than three years difference in our ages, so we grew up together.  We were constant playmates when we were young.  I remember the hours we spent in Barbie fantasy land.  We made clothes for the dolls.  We were years ahead of Mattel in developing Barbie couture.  We fought over the Ken doll that had two arms.  The other Ken lost one of his in a tragic backyard accident.  We even dyed my blonde Barbie’s hair with a black marker so it would have the same color hair as her doll.  After all, sisters are supposed to have the same color hair.  We also got in big trouble over it as the process resulted in black marker getting on much more than just the doll’s hair.

I remember the great fun we had teasing and, yes, torturing our little brother.  Being the youngest and outnumbered, he never had a chance.  Standing outside the screen door with him trapped inside, chanting “Bruce, the Goose” never failed to send us into fits of laughter and him howling to Mom in anguish.  We found infinite ways to entertain ourselves and, most definitely, endless reasons to bicker and brawl.  Just because she was the quiet one, no one should even be deceived that she did not instigate as often as I.  She had great curiosity, creativity and mischief in her soul.  I don’t believe I have any early childhood memories that don’t include Gail.

We shared a room with matching bedspreads.  We shared toys and books.  We even shared the same bad haircut for far too many years.  Sorry, Mom.  We shared clothes and shoes.  We shared our secrets and our dreams.  We shared our disappointments and our tragedies.  We shared our lives.  We shared everything . . . as only sisters can and we fought   . . . as only sisters can, but through it all we loved each other . . . as only sisters can.  A lifetime is a long time to spend sharing with someone.  Right now, I can’t imagine life without her, but I know she will always remain in all things I was lucky enough to share with her and never further away than my heart.

My sister lost her battle with ovarian cancer last Saturday, February 4, 2012.  She will be sorely missed.

For any wishing to make a contribution, we believe Gail would have wanted to help others fighting the battle she did and would suggest donations to The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF).  Your gifts would support OCRF’s mission to fund the best and most promising ovarian cancer research to find better ways to prevent, treat, and cure this disease.

https://www.kintera.org/AutoGen/Simple/Donor.asp?ievent=475938&en=lgIJJONAJbLJK4PzG5LPIYPCJkLQJ1PGKiLQI7OMLuH

Under the “Donate/Tribute Information” Section please indicate Gail Smith as the Honoree.  Please use James Tuba at email j.tuba40@gmail.com for the contact and select e-mail notification.

I don’t understand death and loss.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I’ve gone through the process any number of times and the length of my list of dead and gone is colossal.  I have had careers die.  I have had love and passion die.  I have had my trust and my heart stolen.  I have had friendships drift away.  I have had marriages end.  I have had family that I loved dearly taken away.  Gone are houses, more than a few vehicles, massive quantities of other worldly goods, innumerable pets and most of my sentimental memorabilia.  I have lost my art and my lifestyle, even my freedom for a time (no it wasn’t prison).  Most everything for one reason or another, at one time or another has left me. 

Sure, there were reasons.  It’s not like I don’t take care of or am lackadaisical with what is important and necessary.  I’m not a total loser, only a part-time one.  I’ve worked hard for what I’ve had, but there have been some nasty obstacles to overcome and it’s likely I could have made better choices at different times in my life.  I could make you weep with my tragedies, but what would the point be.  I stopped crying long ago and learned to find a way to keep living.  It’s not like there is really any other conscionable alternative.  You breathe in and out.  You place one foot in front of the other.  You put your big girl pants on and continue.

I’m certain everyone experiences loss and death during their lives.  It’s part of life.  I get it.  I just don’t understand why it has to be so friggin’ hard or why there has to be so much of it.  I mean, you work your ass off and poof!  I learned a long time ago not to hold anything too tightly.  Never get so attached to a person, place or thing that their loss will destroy you.  Not that I haven’t been devastated many times over.  I have simply learned it’s an unavoidable part of life.  Still, this last couple of years, I’m starting to feel like I’m enduring my own personal seven plagues of the Apocalypse and I gotta say, even I have my limits.  I mean . . . really?  When is enough, enough?

Okay, the house burned . . . not all of it . . . what was left of the possessions went into the basement and rebuilding began.  Hey, I got a return on investment for years of insurance premiums.  The basement flooded . . . salvaged what can be saved and moved on.  I had to leave my job . . . so what, I had more time to deal with the rest of the chaos and I’ll get another.  Right?  Oh yeah, the cars that burned with the house and had to be replaced . . . was it really necessary for a tree to fly out of the sky and smash one to smithereens?  No problem, nobody was hurt.  Forget about the furnace that quit working . . . piece of cake . . . it doesn’t get THAT cold and what else are sweaters for anyway? 

It’s just stuff.  Belongings I loved and needed, but things that can be replaced to some degree . . . over time.  Fire, flood, storm, destitution and deprivation . . . did I leave anything out?  None of it is anything I’m gonna lose sleep over and the little every day disasters don’t even qualify for honorable mentions.  Would I have rather not have gone through it?  Of course . . . part-time loser, not mental defective with masochistic tendencies.  To hijack the old saying . . . been there; overcome(sic) that; got the t-shirt; and donated it to the Goodwill years ago.

I’ve got to say I’m having a bit of a problem with the pestilence.  I call it pestilence, but it’s really the black death of our generation . . . cancer.  It has struck all around me like a pharaoh’s curse.  I’ve thought perhaps it’s just that I’m getting old enough to start anticipating my friends and loved ones will start dropping like flies.  Hell, I’m not Methuselah, just your average middle-aged woman.  I’m not yet so elderly to begin a daily perusal of the obituaries to see who checked out today.  I wouldn’t think I should be partaking of that particular oldster’s pastime just yet.  Besides, it’s not the variety of health issues we expect our elders and peers to experience as youth fades.  It’s just freakin’ cancer.

I know I’m not alone in my struggle.  All you have to do is turn on the tube to see the extent of suffering in the world today.  The media frenzy is crushing with the 24-hour-a-day, play-by-play commentary of the havoc being wrought by man and mother nature . . . earthquakes, floods, tornados, hurricanes, draught, wild fires, oil spills, nuclear meltdowns, government breakdowns, stock market crashes, fiscal failure, home foreclosures, environmental devastation, starvation, terrorism, war, revolution, riots, child and drug abuse, murder and all manner of mayhem. 

We do seem to be circling the drain and I – for one – am getting pretty flippin’ tired of this crap.  Even I need a bit of down time between catastrophes and I’m better equipped to cope than most.  It is incomprehensible to me how some of the peoples of the world are managing to survive at all.  Almost everybody I know is experiencing tribulation of one sort or another.  No one’s sorrow is more or less significant than another’s.  When it happens to you, it is the worst thing you can imagine.

I’m making a formal request and sending out into the universe. 

Do you hear me higher power that I’m not sure how to address properly?  If you’re listening, I know a whole lot of us down here could use a break, so if you could/would . . . please.  I know I’d appreciate it.  We could use a hand, big time.  Anything would be a nice start.

While I’m waiting on an answer, I don’t plan to just sit on my duff.  I’m going to care for those in my charge as best I can; help others whenever and wherever I may; and try my damnedest to just breath.  To that end, I’m going to resurrect this all but abandoned blog.  Writing is precious to me and I love blogging.  I just let the calamities in my life squeeze it out.  I’m doing it for me and hope it will not be morbid and morose.  It may seem trivial to some, but there isn’t much I really have any control over these days.  This I do, so I will.

Dear Readers, I wrote this the end of September with the intent of posting it then but just kept putting it off.  I decided I had stalled long enough.  I don’t know if my higher power is working on getting us a little relief, but you all have been vital in my efforts to revive this blog.  MDR’s rebirth has exceeded my wildest imagining.  I will never be able to truly show you my appreciation, but I do . . . Thank you.

Note:  The first smart ass that points out there are only six plagues here will immediately have a plague visited on them.  I’ve already made the arrangements.

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