Do you believe in angels? No, I seriously mean angles—guardian, friendly, dead family member—that remain in your life, even when their physical body has left this Earth? Does God really exist—well isn’t that the $100,000 question? People have been asking that question since the creation of time. So, putting God and Jesus aside…do you believe in angels?
I believe my sister is still watching over me. I hear her in my head and I can replay some of the things I remember her saying. Just little phrases, or sayings, or some dumb cliché` that remained permanently etched into my subconscious. Amy was so frank about everything, she would put everything on the line and she would tell you how she was feeling—but then she could never be on time for anything! She was a contradiction in nature.
Daily, something will remind me of Amy, and it doesn’t have to be anything major. I miss her more with the little things than I ever could the big things. Our first Christmas without her is coming up and I think the entire family is dreading it. I find myself more remininceful as the days start to shorten and autumn starts to arrive. Amy loved the fall as much as I did. All the pumpkins and gourds, corn shocks and apple cider, she loved all the excitement that comes with a crisp fall day. I catch myself feeling so guilty because I can go out into the yard and look at Gods gift of nature, but Amy can’t—at least not physically.
So I watch for her in the blowing breeze—any time the wind chimes sound I say, “Amy’s thinking about us”, and I smile. It gets me through the rough spots. I see her in the orangeness of my Cinderella pumpkin, I only have one this year with the drought and all, but I remember Amy every time I see the dark orange flesh of this wonderful fruit. I’ll get to carve it and light it and enjoy it, but Amy can’t—not really. My guilt consumes me the way that fallen leaves consume the lawn; I’ll eventually be covered in guilt for enjoying the natural beauty of autumn.
And what about Christmas? This first Christmas without Amy is going to be painful—I’m really not sure how I’ll survive, but survive I must. We must all put on a brave front and make the most of the holidays. I want to be closer to my family, so that will be the focus this year—trying to get the entire family together again. We need to maintain constant contact with all members of our immediate families, but this year there will be a hole in our family circle. Amy loved Christmas so much. She loved the shopping and planning and all the surprises. We combined a lot of family tradition along with individual heritage into our last Christmas together. It was almost like Amy had foresight into her future. She wanted Christmas 2004 to be the best Christmas ever—and she did everything in her power to see it was done with family love and memories.
We had two family reunions last year at Christmas time. The first reunion was for the entire Devine-Camden clan. All the cousins, uncles and aunts; all the sisters and brothers; we all had blood connection somewhere down the line. Amy was the one that suggested the reunion and she worked with Mom and several others to get the ball off the ground. We had so much fun meeting and talking with family that live right here in Mercer County. Every one knew everyone else and it was fun to have the family connections through my brain; plus trying to make all the names and faces line up into a semblance of order. Everyone was really happy to be involved in the get-together, all it took was a little nudge from an angel—Amy was practicing being an Angel and we didn’t even know it.
Amy wanted everyone to have handmade stockings for Christmas. It has always been her and he daughter—Ashley—‘s tradition to buy a new Christmas stocking every year. Amy had an old quilt and she wanted Mom to make stockings out of it. So she drew a pattern, traced it on the quit and cut it out. Then all Mom had to do was sew the pieces together. Everyone in our immediate family got a handmade stocking for Christmas last year, all thanks to Amy. She kept on Mom until Mom had made everybody one; and Mom was happy to do it. Mom has never been the one to come up with the ideas, but if she can see it in her head, she can make it. That’s the way I am, I have to see something before I can ever attempt to make it. We will all remember Amy at Christmas when we hang our quilted stockings—those stockings hold the belief and joy Amy felt about Christmas.
We loved to keep secrets, my sister and me. I kept the biggest one from her last Christmas. For years, Amy has collected Wizard of Oz items, anything that had to do with the book or movie. She has ornaments and Beanie babies and figurines. She has posters and purses and all types of Wizard of Oz collectables. Her newest acquisitions were three plates in a series—all with an original drawing from the movie embossed on them. She had found the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and Dorothy at a yard sale during the 2004 127 Yard Sale, but the Cowardly Lion was missing from the set. She didn’t care; she bought them anyway, knowing that one day she might be able to find the missing plate.
Unbeknownst to her, Keith had found the Cowardly Lion plate on e-bay and he bought it immediately, because it was the missing piece. I hid that plate right in plain sight of my sister from September until Christmas 2004 and she never found it. It was in its original box and I placed it in with our collection of DVDs and she never noticed it. So, Christmas 2004 was really special because, Amy finally got the Cowardly Lion plate to complete her set. She couldn’t believe I had kept it hidden from her. I’m just glad she got to enjoy the completed set before she died. Again, the Wizard of Oz will always remind me of Amy.
© Bobbi Rightmyer, November 2005