Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Who’s That Girl, End of the Beginning


Two weeks ago, I wrote fondly about the woman who I used to think of as my baby sister. I did not know, then, that she would provide a far more profound lesson in understanding over the next week. Staring death in the face will do that.

As I silenced my phone before the service, Sunday the 8th, I saw a text message from my brother-in-law. My youngest sister was in the hospital in extreme pain. By Monday afternoon we knew the cancer was back with a vengeance. Two years ago, we were celebrating as Youngest Sister was pronounced cancer-free of a dread strain that has taken almost all it touches. The treatment had nearly killed her, but every quarterly scan since showed no tumors.

Scans did not show tumors because the killer was hiding in the bone marrow, finally robbing her of the blood components necessary to life. The rogue cells were creating pressure, trying to crack the bones inside out. Hence the pain.

I flew in Tuesday afternoon to say farewell. I found Youngest Sister had made her decision, with the help of her medical team and her husband. She would accept support, beyond pain management, for long enough to see our sister who lives farthest away. The wonderful medical staff, the same team who had helped her to temporary victory the first time, had managed to get the pain under control.

Youngest Sister was clear of eye and voice when I saw her in the cancer ward. She had no tears, no fears, and was vibrantly alive. You see, she had spent a lifetime growing in her faith. She was looking past that impostor, Death, to her new life.

Over the past two years, it turns out, she had always assumed that she would have about two years. Youngest Sister and her family had their lives in order and were living every day to the fullest. As her hair grew back in, two summers ago, it had not one gray strand, and was wonderfully curly. They hiked, camped, did scouting and sports, beyond their deep-rooted involvement in their church family.

Last year, she homeschooled her daughter, of whose unusual perceptiveness I wrote. This freed the two of them to road trip to Arizona. I took them on a whirlwind tour of southern Arizona, a prelude to the two of them hiking down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back up again. So, she spent every day living and filling her children with understanding for this life and the next. Two weeks before her death, she had ridden 50 miles on a racing bicycle, the longest training ride for a two-day road race she planned to ride with her eldest son.

And then, there we were, a constantly changing set of family and friends filling her hospital room. There were plenty of tears among us, over the four days from Tuesday to Friday. I did not see her cry, although I left her when her husband brought in their children — when I am told Youngest Sister gave them the Christian mom talk about meeting and choosing a mate. As friends visited, Youngest Sister assigning her many tasks to scouting and church women. Finally, as our parents, all of us siblings, her children, and friends had all said our temporary goodbyes, she slipped more into sleep.

In the early hours of Saturday, July 14, 2018, Youngest Sister woke from the dream of this life, rising into Light. In that moment, she finally knew as her Creator had always known her. To have seen her past three years on this world is to get an understanding of the Scripture:

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Philippians 1:21 (KJV)

There are 21 comments.

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  1. JudithannCampbell Inactive

    Clifford, I am so sorry. Thank you for sharing your wonderful sister with us; she is a profile in courage and grace.

    • #1
    • July 21, 2018, at 7:50 PM PDT
  2. EB Thatcher

    So sorry.

    • #2
    • July 21, 2018, at 8:10 PM PDT
  3. Gossamer Cat Coolidge

    A beautiful tribute. I am so sorry for your loss.

    • #3
    • July 21, 2018, at 8:46 PM PDT
  4. Boss Mongo Member

    Condolences aren’t enough. Just…

    Glad she’s at peace. And thank you: your post helps inform me on how to go forward in my life.

    Baby sister did it right. And with style. And with Grace. Thank you, Mr. Brown.

    • #4
    • July 21, 2018, at 9:26 PM PDT
  5. MarciN Member

    I’m so glad she had the time to spend with her kids and her family. Sometimes I think moms want to give their children one last extra dose of “Be not afraid.” :-)

    I will pray that your own grief is eased. My husband lost two older sisters to cancer. It’s terribly hard.

    • #5
    • July 21, 2018, at 9:46 PM PDT
  6. Jules PA Member

    Peace and comfort to all who loved her. 

    • #6
    • July 21, 2018, at 10:52 PM PDT
  7. Arahant Member

    Vaya con Dios to Youngest Sister, and thank you for sharing her with us more than once this month.

    As is mentioned above, this is part of Group Writing.

    • #7
    • July 22, 2018, at 12:46 AM PDT
  8. Mark Camp Member

    Thanks, Clifford. I would like to email this to my family and close friends. It would be easier if you’d approve it for the Main Feed. Would you mind doing that?

    • #8
    • July 22, 2018, at 3:31 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Clifford, no words to offer. Only tears. Silent prayers. Thank you.

    • #9
    • July 22, 2018, at 7:07 AM PDT
  10. Patrick McClure, Coffee Achiev… Coolidge

    No matter how much we are glad they are out of pain,it still hurts us. Eternal rest grant unto her oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.

    • #10
    • July 22, 2018, at 7:56 PM PDT
  11. Nanda Panjandrum Inactive

    Safely Home to her! Peace, Consolation, Hope, and holy Joy to you all…Nanda Hugs, too!

    • #11
    • July 22, 2018, at 8:46 PM PDT
  12. Seawriter Contributor

    Memory eternal.

    Been there.

    • #12
    • July 24, 2018, at 11:08 AM PDT
  13. Columbo Member

    I think she thought very highly of her big brother too.

    Thank you for sharing the story, Cliff.

    • #13
    • July 24, 2018, at 11:09 AM PDT
  14. iWe Reagan
    iWe Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    A really beautiful tribute, thank you.

    • #14
    • July 24, 2018, at 11:28 AM PDT
  15. Dr. Bastiat Member

    Beautifully written. She sounds like an absolutely beautiful person.

    I’m so sorry.

    • #15
    • July 24, 2018, at 11:41 AM PDT
  16. Hypatia Inactive

    I can’t stop crying.

    I have a baby sister, less than one year my junior, dealing with this scourge.

    O God, spare us yet a little!

    And to you, whose sister has undergone her agon–what can be said? 

    Just yesterday I learned of the death at 93 of a dear friend of my parents. Speaking to her son, I foolishly ventured that she had had a peaceful end ( that was kinda the impression I had from the obit he sent).

    But she, loyal servant of God, lover of Jesus, did not. She expired in horrible, screaming agony, her entire body swollen and distended, as a result of an allergic reaction to an antibiotic from her dentist.

    Nor did my parents , both faithful servants of the all-merciful Father, have a tranquil painfree passing.

    i praise and respect your elegiac tribute to your sister.

     “And though the after-world will never hear

    The happy name of one so gently true, 

    Yet we who loved you, though we be but few,

    Keep you in whatsoe’er is good, and rear

    In our weak virtues, monuments to you.” 



    • #16
    • July 24, 2018, at 3:05 PM PDT
  17. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Clifford, thank you for the beautiful post and testimony. Even with the sorrow of your little sister’s passing, you have the comfort of knowing that she is Home now.

    • #17
    • July 24, 2018, at 3:12 PM PDT
  18. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Would that we all have so graceful a passing from this life to the next. Peace to you. And thanks for the beautiful post.

    • #18
    • July 24, 2018, at 3:16 PM PDT
  19. Hypatia Inactive

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Clifford, thank you for the beautiful post and testimony. Even with the sorrow of your little sister’s passing, you have the comfort of knowing that she is Home now.

    Please, don’t take this as a disparagement of the above comment. And I would not detract from the comfort offered. I know it is commonplace on such occasions to say the deceased has “gone home”.

    But, to me, “home” is an Earthly word. And “home” was where the departed lived with her family, her friends. 

    As far as I know, the Bible uses the word “home” only once in connection with death: Man’s “long home” , a mordantly witty pun.

    when I have heard this at the funeral of someone I loved, I have always thought: “If only she could have stayed “home” much longer!” 


    • #19
    • July 24, 2018, at 3:39 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  20. GiveMeLiberty Inactive

    Your Youngest Sister did it right and filled every day with living life. Thank you for sharing this inspiring but sad story. So very sorry for your loss of her beloved presence here on earth.

    • #20
    • July 24, 2018, at 3:54 PM PDT
  21. Mole-eye Member

    Deepest sympathy, Clifford. What a wonderful example she was.

    • #21
    • July 24, 2018, at 7:14 PM PDT

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