What I would do today…if I could
What I would do today…if I could
June 2, 2012 3pm
I would start my day with a savory cup of coffee, put on a little Jason Mraz, settle into my favorite Saturday morning chair, and dial the phone. I would call you like so many Saturday morning chats before today. Catch up on the latest news. “How are the kids?” “What’s new with Aunt Bea?” and then we would launch into our usual marathon of crazy, twisty, winding tales that only sisters can follow; let alone understand. I would laugh so hard my stomach would hurt as you relayed yet another story of the “cuckoos nest cubicle land” that was your workplace or some nutty situation you’d gotten yourself into…AGAIN. I would say, “Oh my GOSH! I can’t believe you DID THAT?” and you would say, “Oh Shut up…I’m telling a story here!”
We would refill our coffee and I’d say “Hang on a minute while I see who’s at the door” as the Saturday morning evangelists made their regular check-in, and then we would seamlessly flow back into our conversation as if there were no interruptions at all. This is just the way our conversations roll. And it’s fun and funny and as natural as breathing.
Or perhaps we’d say…. “Oh what the heck were we talking about? Who cares…so anyway…” and off we would go with the sometimes joyful or nutty, often heartfelt and meaningful, and always enriching and heartwarming conversations that only SISTERS understand.
That’s what I would do today. If I could.
But I can’t.
And oh how my heart misses those Saturday morning chat-fests. Oh how my heart misses knowing that you are just a phone call or an email or a plane flight away. Today marks the fourth year of my life that I can no longer start Saturday mornings with you, my dear Lanie. Do you know how I miss you? Do you know how precious you truly were? Do you know that you made life better just by being you….precious and kind and way more caring of others’ needs and feelings than you ever were of your own?
The void is immeasurable and unfillable.
Most days I go about my life with a sense of joy and purpose and love and peace. My God takes care of me always and all ways. And with that comes the absolute certainty that I will see you again someday, that your spirit is always with me, that the mark you left on my heart is one of pure love the likes of which no one and nothing can replace. Still I am blessed to have deep love in my life. You would be happy to know the sister-friends I have who fill my heart and my life with joy, trust, confidence, faith and devotion. Yes, and much laughter! But rest assured, there is no one on the planet who can reach me like you could. No one who has ever loved me so unconditionally. No one for whom I would gladly lay down my life, and be honored to do so. THAT space is irreplaceable and that space in my heart and my soul belongs to you Lanie Jo. Always.
So today, at mid-day God knocked me upside the head and said, “It’s June 2nd.” “BEA, IT’S JUNE 2nd!” I was surprised to find myself instantly transformed from enjoying an “ordinary Saturday” that began with coffee, bath, a community event and time with girlfriends, to a woman on her knees asking God for strength and courage. Asking the question I don’t often ask, “WHY?” “Why can’t I call my dear sister today? Why did she die four years ago today as a result of an overdose inflicted by the shame and guilt and pain of a gambling addiction? Pain from a disease that is not understood by most and garners compassion and caring from few.”
Today I read my “Sisters Book” – the Memory book I compiled as a gift for you in 1998. Now it is a gift to me. I touch our faces in the images from childhood and say, “I miss you Lanie and I love you.”
I wish with all of my heart that I DIDN’T have to do the work I do because of the loss of you. I am grateful EVERY DAY that God has illuminated my path and purpose of Humanizing and Illuminating the Disease of Compulsive Gambling. I intend to humbly spend the rest of my days serving as a catalyst for social change in problem gambling. And I wish that this PURPOSE, this CALLING would have been illuminated in a gentler way. One that didn’t feel like my left arm was cut off and my heart had been cracked in two. But it did. And who am I to ask God “Why?” I serve him and I trust him.
Today is different than the 100’s of Saturday mornings that preceded June 2, 2008; the day Lanie Jo Twigg Shaffer died. Today I sit in quiet contemplation, read our “Sisters Book”, stroke your face on pictures I treasure and feel my feelings.
Tomorrow? Well, tomorrow I will cowgirl up and remember WHY I do what I do. Because LOVE can move mountains sister! And if by channeling the love I feel for you fulfills the Mission of Lanie’s Hope, well then….isn’t this a beautiful Saturday after all?
I love you my sister, my best friend, my soul’s perfect match.
And I will see you again Sis.
In the meantime, I serve your memory and I serve the families who have felt and experienced this pain, and I work to protect others from experiencing the fallout of a disease that you can’t see on an X-ray, can’t diagnose with blood tests, often shows up in abhorrent behavior by societal standards and is scoffed at by many as a “cop out for poor choices” rather than a kidnapping of the brain that makes “choice” impossible.
And after all Sis, you left us and you’ve left this earth, but your spirit and your sense of joy and wonder and giving lives on…appropriately…in “Lanie’s Hope.”
With all my love ALWAYS,
Your Little Sister,