Daily Archives: March 3, 2023

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Daffodils, Shamrocks, Loss—and Love

For those who knew my sister, Elizabeth Sciabarra (aka “Ms. Ski”), it comes as no surprise that she knew how to celebrate a holiday. Even at work, she’d drive the staff crazy decorating the office for every holiday imaginable. At home, it was the same. There was barely a holiday we didn’t commemorate with Uber-decorations.

We weren’t Irish. Not by a long shot. Still, the shamrocks came out in the weeks before St. Patrick’s Day. It didn’t take much effort because like her, I too enjoyed such festivities. And I’m a creature of habit, a keeper of ritual.

For the past 40 years or so, one of those rituals was me walking through the door, sometime in early March, with Daffodils. They were among her favorite flowers (violets being another). But Daffodils were special at this time of year because they were, in these parts, among the first signs of spring. Of life.

My sister died on November 26, 2022. And there isn’t a day, dare I say, there isn’t an hour that goes by when I don’t think of her. We lived together for 3 months less the 63 years of my whole life.

I am no stranger to loss or to grief. I lost my Dad when I was 12 years old, my Uncle Sam, who was like a second father to me, in 1994, and my mother, who died after a 5-year battle with lung cancer, in 1995. Not to mention too many relatives and friends to count (and three beloved pets). Every loss has been accompanied by a unique, if familiar, form of grief. I know all too well the ‘stages’ of that grief, and I’m not the kind of guy who disowns his emotions. I mean, show me a touching Hallmark commercial around Christmastime and puddles of tears form beneath me!

I’ve been very gentle with myself over these last 3+ months, as I deal with a loss unlike any other—more devastating than any I’ve ever experienced. I can’t even begin to properly thank the number of special people who have reached out to me with love and support to get me through some of my most difficult days. The sadness can engulf me with the slightest of triggers: a note discovered, an old birthday card, a photo, a place we dined at, or shopped at, a piece of music, a film or television show we routinely watched together.

And so, as I walked along the street the other day, I came upon our neighborhood corner flower stand, and outside sat a bunch of Daffodils. My eyes watered instantaneously. I wasn’t going to pass up this opportunity. I brought them home—to an empty apartment; she was not here to tell me how much she loved me or how beautiful they were or to give me a peck on the cheek to thank me for having gifted us this harbinger of spring.

So, I placed those Daffodils beneath a shining Shamrock, and turned on the lights, and this creature of habit cried … tears of sadness, tears of joy. Because ultimately, these are the rituals that keep her memory alive in my shattered heart. I also know that spring is just around the corner. And, indeed, hope springs eternal.

I love you, Bitty, always …

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