05 February 2010

our hero...

this is one of those stories i need my girlies to remember. when i'm here. when i'm not. whenever. forever.

it's a story about strength. the iron giant kind of strength. stronger than that, maybe. it's a story about love. a fierce and fighty love as everlasting and as heartbreaking as old dan had for little ann. it's a story about keeping your word until the very end. kind of like inigo montoya. hanging on to dear, dear life even while scaling the cliffs of insanity, even when battling rodents of unusual size, and even in the pit of despair.




oh, it's a good story. because this story? this story is all yours. it's about your aunt lin. a real-deal hero. who was all yours.

you weren't even supposed to meet each other. her cancer had come to visit again. but this time? her cancer brought some friends. they all barged in without invitation to breasts and bones. and this time? it looked as though they were staying. no matter how politely all those surgeries and chemotherapies and radiations asked 'em to leave.

we rushed a brand new little lillie from dallas to chicago to meet this ball of magic i called my sister. and a funny thing happened, lill: lin fell head-over-tails in love with you. so, with a brand new you in her heart, she fought her cancer and all those nasty companions. and she won.

that's how important you are.

then came you, grae. a mini-me in colors and smiles. from the minute she laid eyes on you, lin was hooked. so, with a brand new you in her heart, she continued to fight. and continued to win.

that's how important you are.

the two of you and lin shared a birthday month, you september girls. every september, we'd find her or she'd find us. with fireworks. always fireworks.




fast forward to the end of an august, when lill would turn seven in less than a week. but your aunt lin hadn't gotten out of bed in over that. she couldn't even walk on her own. even so, you had to ask, sweet lillie kate.

will you be at my birthday?

yes. she answered, after a great pause and with more conviction than anyone else in the room owned. i wouldn't miss it for the world.

and so, on your seventh year, lill, your aunt lin came to your party. walked right in grammy's door without any help or extra hands. wearing eye make-up, even. it was unforgettable.

that's how important you are.

and grae? don't think i didn't see you that entire night. hovering over lin. touching her every so often with one gentle finger just to prove to yourself that, yes, she was really there. when she really wasn't supposed to be. my god, grae...you were only five. but nineteen days later, you would turn six. so you had to ask.

will you be at my birthday?




an even greater, how-could-it-get-any-more-painful pause this time. i wouldn't miss it for the world, grae. promised with more conviction than i think even she owned. and i don't know how the heck she did it, but she held on until your birthday. remember? she even brought fireworks.

that's how important you are.

there was one more mackin girlie due to arrive. but not until october. there was just no way lin would meet this one. i knew it. she knew it. everyone knew it.

grae-girl? i could see in your eyes that you knew it, too. but you had just turned six. one of those ages when there's a miracle behind every moon. so you asked lin if she could stay. to see our newest babe. and what do you think she promised?




she wouldn't miss it. not. for. the. world.

esmé dahlia...you came early. snuck in at the very end of the month. i think you must've known. or maybe you just wanted to be a september girl, too. lin was the first to arrive that next morning to meet you. to hold you. until her tears became too much. you wouldn't know each other long. less than two weeks. but know this, esmé. the very idea of you kept her alive.

and that's how important you are.

as i write this story...lin's ending...you are nine and eight and two. today, your lives are fairly simple. you ask. you get. like magic.

but someday, your lives won't be so simple. someday, your lives will become less about asking. more about giving. someday, your lives will become less about today. all about tomorrow. and that's when you'll truly understand all that lin gave to you. and that's when your hearts will just shatter with the weight of her gift.




so fold this memory into a tiny square, you three, and keep it in your back pockets. reach for it when you need it. and if one of you forgets for a moment, remind her, won't you?

that once upon a time and happily ever after and over the hills and through the woods and now and forever and 'til death we do part and goodnight gorilla...this was your story. this was your hero.

i hope your memories of lin make you better. just better. just more. hold tight to her strength when you need to be strong. or when someone else needs you to be strong. recreate her love as often as you impossibly can. and then once more after that. keep your word until the very, very end. try. give. care. stay.

because that's how important she was.

this was originally posted on mackin ink's first edition, way over two years ago. i think i wrote a lot better then. artwork by studio mela.

75 comments:

Emily said...

I read a lot of blogs. I don't comment on any blogs. This story--this memory (it's more than that, of course)--knocked me off my chair for a good while and knocked the breath out of me for longer. Thank you for sharing. Your sister was special and I think your girls must be magical. And you? Well, I just kind of want to be you.

Brandi said...

oh, karey.
your brought tears to my eyes. i don't know what it's like to have a sister, but you were blessed over and over again with yours. what an incredible woman. and what an inspiration.

Kelly said...

i know this is a repost, but it remains to this day my favorite thing you've ever written. it's so close to your heart that it makes mine ache.

xo
Kelly

TX Girl said...

Breathtaking. Everyone should know this kind of love.

DeMo said...

tears on a friday. but gorgeous tears. i loved this and it makes me want to call up my sisters right now and tell them i love them.

megan said...

karey. this is so beautiful.

thank you.

mrs. darling said...

i want to tell you how the first time i read this it forever changed how i love my own sister. i love her harder, deeper, tighter now.

and today, when i read it again, it reminded me to love more. and even then some more. and try with all of might to make the world a better place, just like your lin did.

Melissa de la Fuente said...

Oh Karey...what an incredible story, what an amazing woman your sister was. How did she do it? I believe you when you say she brought magic and fireworks with her & what a gift she gave & you have given with this story. You are an amazing writer my friend....today & then. I am so sorry you lost your sister...I don't know what it is like to have a sister either but, I have always heard it is the most special bond. I am so excited for my girls to have that, and your girls....you all amaze me.
xo
Melis

Shannon said...

I remember reading this the first time during the first edition, I cried and thought, these words are kind of like magic. I read them today and I know they are, your girls are so blessed to have such magic in their lives and woven in their memories.

goodniteirene said...

best to be brief, post beauty. breath taken.
love,
katie

billy said...

you are beautiful

Kay* said...

i remember reading this the first time it was posted & it almost brought me to tears then and almost brought me to tears now. beautiful.

(& you are still a beautiful writer!)

KT said...

this is very lovely, I hope your girls will herish you and this blog and your memories.

Blues said...

Oh, this one? This one is a special one?

This one is the kind that stays with me for a long long time.

Blues said...

Will you just change that second question mark to an exclamation mark?

Karey, honestly. Beautiful.

TWINTALES said...

so beautiful

i want to fold this story in my back pocket and carry it around, too.

sometimes i need something like this to remind me how important it is to hold everyone close and that no matter how hard this moment may be, it is still a moment to be cherished.

thank you for sharing. lin sounds like an amazing woman.

so are you.

Richie Designs said...

made me cry all over again. stunning

rebecca said...

This, as it happens, was the perfect day to read your story.
Thank you. Thank you.

emily b. said...

i wish i had a sister like this. i've wanted it my whole life and been burned each time my wishing blinded my reality...so i have sister-friends. half-sisters of a sort. to fill the space.

this is just beautiful...sad but in a life-affirming way...if that's what i mean to say... and i've loved studio mela for a long time. so nice to see her art on here :) i am truly truly glad you posted this... to see how your writing has been evolving and changing. such a different tone and style. still as lovely as ever, of course...

but you knew i'd say that :)

xo, em

Sherry said...

right now i have a big lump in my throat and tears running down my face. i have sisters and two daughters...sisterhood is such a true blessing. this was amazing, karey. truly amazing! a wonderful way to honor your sister.

Jane Flanagan said...

I made the huge mistake of reading this at my desk and now I'm choking back tears.

So beautifully written, profoundly touching, whole-heartedly tragic yet optimistic and utterly inspiring.

I lost a brother and I hope some day I can be as gracious and graceful as you are. You are a beautiful woman.

A-M said...

No words, just tears. A-M xx

krista said...

i remember reading this this first time around.
i'm not sure why, but it's even more powerful now, with age.
i lost my brother years ago. i wish he could have met my daughter.
and you're still just as good of a writer.
know that.

Kelly and Kelly said...

Can I just say I love the Princess Bride references in the beginning. My husband went his whole life without seeing that until last year. I made him watch it. Great movie.

I remember reading this last time. And this time (as well as last) it made me cry like a baby. Nothing like the love of sisters and I'm glad you get to pass that on to your own girls.

And your writing. Always beautiful.

vintage simple said...

I'm with Emily: you just took my breath away, Karey. Thank you for sharing this here again for those of us who didn't know you then. Your writing is beautiful - now and then. It's what brought me here in the first place.

-maria

karey m. said...

i'm a little too pink to step in here and thank you and reply to each of you...

but know that i'm walking around in my house while snow is falling crazily outside, smiling a bit wistfully at all of your words.

xoxo.

girl, inspired said...

such a moving post, thank you. love it, xx

Krissy said...

oh girl, thank you for sharing- and re-sharing this. it's incredible.... xo

PS~Erin said...

This is so sweet and so powerful. I devoured every word and am folding it in a tiny square to keep in my pocket. Thank you for sharing. Your girls are blessed to have had their Aunt Lin and their mommy

Made by Mariko said...

Beatiful story.
My eyes are wet.

Made by Mariko said...

Beatiful story.
My eyes are wet.

Sue said...

A very simple "Thank you"

Simply Mel said...

A magic that will forever live within their souls....beautiful karey, so absolutely beautiful.

etta said...

xoxox to you and to sisters everywhere.

you've moved me.

susan said so said...

yes to sisters, and to love, and to remembering.

xox,
Susan

Relyn said...

Karey,
I read of your loss and my heart aches for you. But, I feel envy, too. Because you have known the love of a sister and you have given your girls the same. Something I wish for myself. And my girl.

As to magic, Lin's was the powerful sort. And, so is yours, my friend. So is yours.

Robin said...

I remember this from back in the day mackin ink...and it still blew me away. you still have that magic in your words, trust me.
xoxo

Lucy & Madi said...

I am an aunt and a sister and know how important those 2 things are, they mean the most to me. We lost my mom, their NANA 2 years ago this month, your story is amazingly written, moving and perfect. Thank you.

jules @ The Diversion Project said...

so glad you're working on a book with this my friend. awfully good way to immortalise such a stunningly beautiful, strong, true story that must be told.

you do your sister, your girlies three, and women across the globe very proud.

xxx

Boston Baked Beads said...

That was a beautiful tribute. She must have been quite a woman.

caroline duke said...

oh, i loved this the first time, and somehow, i loved it even more this time.

lisa montgomery said...

Thanks for re-posting. This is the reason I love you. Your love for your sister, expressed so wonderfully, being passed down to your daughters. I can't imagine life without my sister. Thanks for the reminder of that constant and forever blessing.

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

Of course my friend Blues would lead to a blog that makes me smile and cry all within the same minute. Thanks for that.

essie said...

when i found your blog for the first time it was because of this post-

you were a fantastic writer then
and
you are a fantastic writer still-

missing someone so special and keeping their spirit alive to be cherished and loved by littles who didn't get to, takes work, love, and dedication-

thank you for sharing what it takes and what it means to love someone with your whole heart...

bekkah said...

A true hero. Your words and emotion are beautiful.

Shayna said...

wow, karey. i missed this on the first go 'round but i don't supposed that i could have loved it any more. you are a wonderful writer. i'm so glad to have met you, found your blog and been invited to glimpses of your life. sunday night on the couch and i'm all teary. thank you for sharing your wonderful stories. what lucky girls you have...love.

Kim Living Life said...

It is a wonderful thing that you can write about your sister like this. Your daughters were so fortunate to have known that kind of love for them and that determination to survive. Lots of hugs for you as you remember your beautiful Lin

wandering nana said...

This is such a beautiful story. Have you ever thought to publish it? I would love to buy one. It is such a beautiful tribute to the love we should have for one another. Thank you for sharing such a tender story (I'm very serious about the book)

formerly fun said...

So lovely.

Kelly said...

Beginning my afternoon work with tears in my eyes. What a lovely tribute to your sister and your girls and the magical powers of what love can do.

Vane said...

karey, this was amazingly heartfelt! just amazing.

and this is the reason why said...

one of the loveliest tributes, reminders, love letters I've ever read. you have a gift. thank you. so much. for sharing that gift. with me. with all of us.

Heather said...

wow, beautiful, and i am a mess of tears at my desk eating my lunch

Estelle said...

What else can I say that has not already been said here so beautiful. Your words are stunning. Thank you for sharing so deeply, so honestly.

Design Mom said...

This is perfect. So glad you reposted it because somehow I missed it the first time. It's precious.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Wow, just beautiful. Your sister sounds like such a wonderful, amazing, loving person. And, your girls too. Thank you for sharing this with all of us.

Tali said...

I'm thankful I have a home office, because I'm a blubbering mess right now. I have no words. This piece was just beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Destri said I would cry, and she was right. What a beautiful and touching account, written from your heart. Just as today's bullet list on the Mother Huddle. Thank you, now I need to go and hug my two boys.

Anonymous said...

Destri said I would cry, and she was right. What a beautiful and touching account, written from your heart. Just as today's bullet list on the Mother Huddle. Thank you, now I need to go and hug my two boys.

Anonymous said...

Destri said I would cry, and she was right. What a beautiful and touching account, written from your heart. Just as today's bullet list on the Mother Huddle. Thank you, now I need to go and hug my two boys.

quadelle said...

What a gift your sister gave to you and your girls. Your telling of it is a gift, too. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Never That Easy said...

This is the loveliest post I've read in a long, long time. A real tribute to all of your girls. As an auntie, and a sister, it touches a special place in my heart.

thepsychobabble said...

What a beautiful story. What a wonderful memory to have and to treasure. I'm sitting here tearing up, and so sorry for the loss of what surely was an amazing woman.

Beverly said...

WOW - I can't breathe. I don't want to breathe. Because if I breathe, I'll have to move on and the story will be something I read instead of the story I'm reading. It's wonderful and your sister was amazing, your children are magic and you are love. Thank you.

Jen said...

what a beautiful story. thank you.

BreezieGirl said...

Thank you SO much for this. I don't have the words to say all that I'm feeling.

sarah said...

this socked me hard. speechless. your writing is a gift.

Laurel said...

I didn't know this story, so I went and read it when you linked to it yesterday. It made me cry. That is a really beautiful story, and your words for your girls touched me as well. Thank you for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

I just found you and found this. My sister has been fighting her own fight - round two, now - something my babies are too small to notice. I'm sitting here in tears, because I get it. I sometimes wonder who I'd be without one of them, because they're a part of me and I'm the most myself when we're together. My heart aches for you, but this is a beautiful account of her strength and her love for your girls.

Kim Grey said...

Beautiful. In all kinds of ways. Thank you for sharing.

I wish I knew how to make words sound so honest and vibrant and sweet (but not overly sweet) and real. Your words move me every time.

May your girlies three always carry love in their hearts and have magical lives.

chrissylove said...

Oh , Karey, - look at all the comments. It equals your sister's strength. And I know the girlies three will remember her just like esme knows your dad-- because they live on in your heart (oh, & your beautiful writing) xox

Ali said...

I've read this post before and each time it has just about brought me to my knees. My mom passed away suddenly last week and tonight I wanted to read this post again. I'm trying to bottle up everything about my mom- her love, her joy for life, her selflessness, her way of making me feel that everything was going to be ok. It's impossible for me to imagine that my kids won't know my mom. Thank you for reminding me that words and stories and memories carry our loved ones on forever.

Richie Designs said...

I was telling my assistant about that other situation and telling him how you started writing about your sister and let him read this.

he said "it's stunning - and when she writes her first book [which she should start immediately] I want my copy autographed"

the lil bee said...

Jesus, Karey. I'm crying at my desk. Thank you for reposting it, because somehow I missed it the first time around. It's pure magic.

swedisheik said...

I found you from your Design Mom Living with Kids post, and this was so precious and wonderful to read. Thank you!