The day my 33-year-old younger sister, Callie Sweed of Jonesboro died on June 1, I was devastated. I felt like the world had come to an end that day and my heart was very heavy. I had never lost anyone so dear and so close in all my life. I was beside myself - wondering and searching myself, trying to figure out how I would get through a loss that was real. My sister had been hospitalized since April and diagnosed with a horrible condition called calciphylaxis. This is painful and deadly condition that affects a small percentage of patients experiencing renal failure. At the time I didn't truly understand what this horrible disease was and just how serious it was. I only knew it as a name. It didn't ring a bell like other medical conditions do such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. My sister's medical challenges began as early as age 12 when she was diagnosed with diabetes, and thereafter sickness and disease began to plague her body year after year. Time and time again she had to inject herself with insulin. As she entered adulthood, her life became a revolving door of in-and-out of doctors' offices, purchasing maintenance drugs, hospitalizations and shut-ins at home from not feeling well. It just wasn't fair. She had to deal with so much and my cares were light. The day she died, processing the fact that she was gone, was just as hard as processing how I would get through the day. In order to find some answers, I knew immediately who I had to talk to. Though my heart was heavy and wracked with pain simultaneously, because I'm already a part of him, without hesitation, I went straight to God. I told him how I was struggling, especially since I had been praying and asking him to save her and not to let her go so soon. In the preceeding weeks my prayer to him had been, "Father, she is too young, she hasn't lived half her life yet, please let her live longer." That day, I spoke to God several times, saying, "Oh Lord, this is just not happening, it just can't be happening." As a result, my conversations with Him that day helped me to ultimately believe in Him more, and to most importantly perceive His great and wondrous powers. It was that day I recognized that my own spiritual relationship with him had gone full circle. As a Christian I had personally experienced His ultimate reason for coming to this earth, his ultimate mission. It was then and only then that my pain eased up and my perplexed mind became clearer. I now could breath, smile and feel good on the inside, knowing that the most ultimate creation in this world now held my sister in his hands. My pain began to subside. As preparation for her funeral got under way, I was immediately prompted to speak at her funeral. I decided to read a poem at the service. The poem I wrote the night before the funeral was my dedication to her, thanking her for being my sister. I titled the poem, "My Dear Sister Callie and have included it here.
Up until age 9 I thought I was doomed, for I had four brothers and no sister in the room.
Then to my surprise, out of God's eyes came the most beautiful sister to help me rise.
She was what I always wanted, her face beautifully round and her checks so pudgy.
I was so thankful I thanked God as I knelt to the ground. I felt like God created her just for me, as he knew she would help me to be.
My sister became a child of God at an early age. That's what would carry her on, no matter what challenges came.
As my sister grew, the times we shared stood true, for she showed us all what she was in God's eyes - she was a part of him, though she was new.
As my sister grew some more at age 12 her life became troubled, but she knew she'd be ok, because her existence in God was strong and delightful, and she carried it so, just like a beautiful floating bubble.
Though her body ached with pain, my sister's cares were light, she knew everything would soon be all right, because God himself would make all things bright.
Sooner than later, my sister showed us all who she really was, she was a fighter.
It didn't even matter what challenges she faced, she just fought them and as a result her relationship with God became tighter. Today my sister rejoices, she sings and she dances.
Oh Lord, how I love her so. I love every inch of her, from the top of her head to the bottom of her toes.
Thank you Lord for blessing me with a sister, not just any sister, but just the exact one you wanted me to have.
I speak to my sister today and tell her that I love her so, I'll see you again sis; just make way for me so when God's ready, I to can go.
That was it, the poem that got me through the day. I finished it off with a thank you from myself and my four brothers too. I also thanked her husband Marc for being so loving and a wonderful living example of what a husband should be. I made it through my day and when it was finally over at 8 p.m. A few more tears streamed from my face, but this time they fell as tears of joy and not tears of sorrow, because I knew for sure now where my sister was.
Sheila Ross is a Brenau University student and intern reporter for the News Daily. She can be reached at 404-273-1429 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.