Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Jenny

A few weeks ago, I got a feeling that it was time for me to go back to Wyoming. However, I didn't see how I could justify it. We're just starting an addition and remodel of our house, which we're doing mostly ourselves since we don't have much money. I've maxed out vacation time from work to accommodate that, and financially it just didn't seem possible, or reasonable. Still, it's been three years since I've been back, and I wanted Jenny to meet Seda.

It seems that the Universe had other plans.

Last night my sister died.

Jenny fought off many hardships in her life, but the last seven years were the hardest. In February of 2002, she was in a car accident, and she almost died. She had head injuries, and her back was broken in six places. She was in a coma for three months. The doctors said it was a miracle she survived at all, and that she probably would never regain much cognitive ability. Yet she did. Physically confined to the care only a nursing home could provide, she regained much of her language, memory, and thought processes. Though dealing with periodic medical crises and depression, her sense of humor and willingness to live made her popular among the residents.

Recently another crisis came. She stopped eating, and last night she slipped away.

Jenny was my older sister, two grades ahead of me in school. She first taught me to read when I was maybe five or six years old, and, when I started school, she protected me on the playground. I didn't fit in with the other kids, and I did not easily make friends. Her presence there was a blessing. After she graduated to junior high, my last two years in elementary school were miserable.

We were close as children, but somehow grew apart as adults. Not that we didn't get along – we did – but contact and communication became less frequent. Jenny moved out, and later on got married. She had two children. The young family struggled to get by, and her husband became abusive to the kids and eventually abandoned her, leaving her with two children and no means of support. Her next husband was worse, and a third child came into the world. Jenny dealt with bouts of poverty and abuse, and, in her mid-thirties, finally began to really get her life together. She worked her way through college. She tended bar, she logged, she got a job with the forest service and worked as an archeologist and wildland fire fighter. Finally, just a few years before her accident, she met a responsible, quiet man, and they got married. She had a fourth child after her 40th birthday, and worked for her local power company. But just as it seemed that things had turned for the best, disaster struck. My brother died in a logging accident on Oct. 4, 2001. Jenny and Frank had always been close, and they had grown closer over the years. His loss hit her hard. Four months later, she was in the accident that changed everything.

That brief summary does not do justice to Jenny's life – to her endurance, her sometimes biting humor, her joy-of-life, her toughness, her love, her generosity, her courage. I don't know how to do justice to that, and there isn't space here anyway. I'm just glad she's my sister. I love you, Jenny, wherever you are, I love you. And I so hope and believe you are at peace.

After Jenny's accident, I felt helpless. I did what I could for my mom, but with two small children and a family to care for, I had to make them my priority. What could I do for my sister? I found something in July, 2004. I started writing her letters. Every Saturday morning from then until last week, I made it a priority to write a letter to her – keeping her abreast of my life, explaining my transition, encouraging her, sharing my thoughts and my fears, my hopes and my love. The communication was one-way – Jenny no longer had the ability to return it – yet in some small way, it connected us. During my last visit, in 2006, she said that she didn't think she could have gone on without them.

Last Saturday, I forgot to write. I forgot to write the letter that she never would have received.

Oh, Jenny, my heart is breaking. I love you. Goodbye for now, sweet sister. We will meet again, on the other side.

Be well. Be happy. Be Love.

10 comments:

David Carrel said...

So sorry Seda, I can't imagine losing a sibling. Know that my love and prayers are with you.

Anonymous said...

Seda,
I just heard about Jenny's passing. I am so sorry. I have tried to call you but the number I have is disconnected. Will you please contact me (510) 932-2334 or dave@duelingartssf.com
Much Love to you and your family.
Cousin,
Dave

The Hangar Queen said...

Desperate sad news Seda. So sorry for your loss.

I'll be keeping you close.

anne said...

Hey girl,

Seda, I'm so sorry. I have only one sibling and it wasn't until we were grown that we began to get along. Now if I don't get email from her at least once a week, I feel lost. I recently lost my dad, whom I was very, very close to, and I haven't yet recovered from that--never will. When someone from your past like a sibling or such dies, they take that part of you with them and you are left with the hole. There is nothing to do but to love others and keep yourself from shutting down. But it can be crippling.

I know that Jenny suffered so; you've told me her story, so maybe she decided that it was time to go on to something else. How are her kids taking it, or your mom? Your poor mom, to lose two children.

Will your mom move out here to be with you and Sam or too dug into WY? My mom would never leave Boulder. I want her to move out here where I can take care of her, but she would not. I chose to be here with Max.

Oh, girl, I'm so sad for you. I miss you, too. Sky's not strong enough yet to walk down there and it's hard for him to be alone.

Hold your kids, girl. Hold Kristin, go see Sam.

I'll hold you, too, in my heart, girl.

me

Seda said...

Thank you all, and love to you. Anne, I think you're right that Jenny decided it was time to go. Poor woman, who can blame her? Yet still, it's sad. I miss her.

I think too that it relates to my post from Sunday. You orient around your family, and those people become lodestones for you, or markers in your emotional self-map. That's why they leave a hole in your life that can't be filled when they pass on. Besides the obvious missing so much someone you love.

Fannie said...

I'm so sorry for your loss Seda. Thank you for sharing part of Jenny's story. You and your family are in my thoughts.

Joie said...

Oh Seda I am so sorry. I only have just learned of you because of your comment on my blog, and I came over to yours to see what your life is about and I read about your sister. My heart goes out to you my dear. I hope you find peace soon, and take comfort in the joy you and your sister shared throughout your life. Take care and hugs.

Terri said...

my heart and tears are with you. Seems this day has been filled with death and sadness for so many. Jenny sounds like such a fighter. Tenacity and humor must run in the family.

Love and Peace, Terri

Seda said...

Thank you all. I feel your thoughts and prayers. Joie, welcome to my blog! Glad you stopped by. Thanks, Terri, she was a fighter. I miss her...

Tit for Tat said...

My condolences on your loss.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our
Beloved's.
~Hafiz