real life

"I felt the loss for my sister"

When my 41-year-old sister Sam passed away from cancer in May 2009, a part of me shattered inside.

We weren’t exactly the closest of siblings, and there was a fair bit of tension at the best of times, but she was still my sister. While we never muttered I love you, or spoke of how we felt during those years of her health declining or the impending finality of her situation, there was an invisible bond that deep down, we both knew we’d always look out for each other. And we did.

So when her boyfriend – fiancé – told me this week that he’d met someone, that same wound quietly shattered again. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for him. I’ve wanted him to take that step and find new love, maybe start a family, have a life where he doesn’t just live with his grief. But when it finally did happen, when he sat across the way from me and told me with a sense of guilt, I felt the loss for my sister. It was happening. He was moving on.

I was surprised by my reaction. He’s doing the right thing and I told him so, yet I felt instant and palpable sadness. My sister had years of up and down, destructive – emotionally and physically – relationships but this one was the other end of the spectrum. He is a loving, caring, and beautiful man. They were an incredible team, even through the darkest days of her illness his loyalty and love stayed firm.

I’ve got to know the boyfriend well over the past few years; he is an important member of our family, uncle to my kids and surrogate brother to me. And through him I’ve also learned a lot about my sister, the person that she was and the side of her I never knew. I understand now why she was so stubborn, frustrating and determined. She fought so hard to stay. She desperately wanted to be with him. It was an amazing and ultimately heartbreaking love story.

I know my thoughts just stem from my love for my sister, I guess it feels like a break-up but of course that’s not the case.

Truth be told I’m also scared of losing him now that he’s found someone. He’s part of our family and an important link to my sister, and he’s reached out to us as much as we have to him.

However it’s time for me to let him go. I know it’ll all be OK. Sam’s memory will never fade and that’s what keeps her part of us all.

Kate Wise is a comunications consultant and mum of two small children.