Monday, 22 September 2008

Remembering Ruth


Today is the anniversary of my sister's death. Ruth died of breast cancer on September 22nd 1997, at the age of 33, less than a month after her twins' second birthdays. Why should today matter more than any other day? I'm not sure, because I still think of her every day, and I always will, for she is part of me, written into my heart. But there is something about anniversaries... A friend of mine, whose sister also died too young, as did her mother, said to me today, 'If the dates stopped gnawing, it would be terrible. Think of the emptiness.' And I knew exactly what she meant. Love and loss are woven together; which is perhaps why we light candles on birthdays, and on anniversaries of death. Tonight, there is a candle burning in our house for my sister; its flame is bright in the darkness.

24 comments:

oxford-reader said...

My thoughts are with you Justine.

Bront√ęBlog Adm. said...

Thinking of you.

Cristina.

Justine Picardie said...

Thank you both so much.

Karen said...

I think anniversaries and other significant days are very important - they are often another way in which we can connect with someone very special and essential to us - a way of acknowledging that although they are no longer physically with us - they are still very much a presence in our lives.
Thinking of you.

petal47 said...

I read Ruth's column in the newspaper, and found it deeply moving. I lost my own sister three years ago. I'm thinking of you today Justine.

Justine Picardie said...

Thanks Karen -- you're absolutely right. And thank you, too, Petal47. Three years is no time at all -- and I'm so sorry to hear you lost your sister.

Vintage Reading said...

My thoughts are with you. I read Before I Say Goodbye a few years ago and I will never forget it. I'm thinking of recommending it to a colleague who is suffering right now.

Justine Picardie said...

I think -- hope -- that it's a book that will never lose its resonance...

Juxtabook said...

How very sad, and how very hard for you Justine. I think your friend is wise however, and that all these things on which people peg rememberance (aniversaries, candles, graves, special places) serve to to anchor us to our past where our lost ones were with us, and because our past is part of us now our loved ones are never truely dead whilst we're alive. We do connect. When an elderly aunt died aged 96 someone said the sad thing is that so many people go with her, all the people that only she now remembers. You must be special to her twins because of your love for, and memories of, their mother. You are part of Ruth's flame too. Take care.

Justine Picardie said...

I'm so glad you posted that comment. It's very wise. I was just looking at pictures of my sons when they were babies -- my younger son wanted to see them -- and there was a picture of my youngest when he was a baby with my grandparents, who died soon after he was born. I still feel connected to them, but I wish -- I truly wish -- that I'd known what I know now, and had recorded their memories and family histories before those died with them.

HelenMH said...

That's a lovely way to remember her. Families are so precious. I lost both of my parents to cancer and it is important to remember.

Justine Picardie said...

Thanks Helen. That must have been very hard for you, to lose both parents to cancer.

Karen said...

Some time ago I read "If the spirit moves you". Your book moved me, and I can imagine how you feel now and how important it is to go on remembering and reminding yourself, and saving those recollections for others.
All good wishes.

Justine Picardie said...

Thanks Karen. I'm so glad you've read "If The Spirit Moves You" -- as you can imagine, it's a book that remains close to my heart.

Amy said...

This is a lovely and true tribute. Next month marks the 24th anniversary of the murder of my best friend from college, while she was on a Peace Corps assignment in Lesotho. I never, ever forget--and wouldn't want to.

Justine Picardie said...

Amy -- thanks for the comment. How terrible to lose your best friend in such a brutal way; but maybe 'lose' isn't quite the right word? Love survives death, in that we don't stop loving, even when a loved one is taken from us; hence the anniversaries being remembered, and those that we love remaining within our hearts. Hope that makes a little sense, in spite of the senseless of the murder of your friend...

Justine Picardie said...

Sorry about the garbled message. My fingers going faster than my brain. Should have said 'senselessness'. But even that sounds nonsensical...

vanessa nicolson said...

Dearest Justine, it's your old friend Vanessa Nicolson. Sorry to contact you this way but have lost your address. Have been thinking of you a lot and what you suffered over the loss of Ruth because our beautiful 19 year old Rosa died on the 22 July in a drowning accident. Andrew and I have now some inkling of the visceral pain you must have experienced, as we are going through it too. All love and thoughts xxx

Lou said...

"Before I Say Goodbye"and "When the Spirit Moves You" are books are very close to my heart.I have always admired your work Justine and that of your beloved sister.My mother died of breast cancer at the age of 39(35 years ago) when I was six.Now I work as a Breast Cancer Nurse and your books will always be my touchstones.I know our loved ones are with us always and after reading your book,Justine,I embarked on my own search for a way to get in contact with my mothers spirit,often with some interesting results!Thinking of you Justine.

Jane said...

I was just looking at 'Before I Say Goodbye' on my bookshelf the other day. The picture of Ruth, wearing combats and t-shirt, laughing, with that wonderfully cheerful, open face. And revisiting the page where she writes about having to vacuum the stairs and shouldn't she be on a tropical island somewhere?

I'm so sorry for your loss.

ebbye said...

I read Before I Say Goodbye about Ruth Justine and I was deeply moved. That book touched me so deeply that after reading a letter to Ruth in there, I put the book down and sobbed.
I have read the book several times since and still sob, there was something about Ruth and something about her columns that touched and affected me, a complete stranger.
Then I read your book and was filled with such warmth that you love your sister so much.
In fact I am writing a blog post for my work about her now, she had such an impact on me, I have the book and I have read that letter often. It was from a young man who thanked Ruth because he said that he went to check his girlfriend's breasts because she was so precious to him and he wanted to make sure or something. A very short letter but Ruth did that - she gave this man awareness and I think everyone who read that well she was honest and amazing.

Carmina said...

my more deepest condolences to the family of Ruth and all her beloved ones. It is always very sad when someone you estimate so much passes away. I remember when the guy who first sold Viagra Online dies, I was a frequent customer and when he died it was very difficult for me to find a place when I could buy that pills and now there are so many websites, anyway, Ruth is in a better place now!

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