Saturday, February 13, 2010

Do you remember?

Do you remember this one?
Well, I worked on it for about a whole month, and slowly it progressed into something quite different. When I had found the right color felt, and pulled out my little treasure box from under a pile of junk in my attic, gathered all my blue beads and then some more ... I started assembling my piece.

But what you see here is only the beginning. Before I can show you its ending I have to tell you a story, its story, my story, the story of my little sister Karen.

Her story started on september 30th, 1976 and abruptly ended on january 9th, 1997 when she took her own life. She was a very boyish girl and always full of life. We both had such good times together. As I was 7 years older than she, I used to play games with her like: I would tell her I was going on a journey and wanted her to come along. I would ask her to lay on her back so I could fold her up and pack her in my suitcase. I would fold her legs up to her tummy, wrap her arms around her knees and try to pick her up, which would of course never succeed.... but we laughed our heads of!

Besides being a lot of fun, she had it in her to become very angry when things wouldn't go as she would want them to. Often when our parents would tell her No, she would stand straight, put both her feet firmly on the ground, clench her fists ... and then swear and shout BUT without making any noise whatsoever (she was clever too: she knew she wasn't allowd to swear and shout!). This would make us all burst out in laughter with tears running down our cheeks. No way mom and dad would be able to stay mad!

When se was a teenager all of that changed. I have never known what really happened to her, I had left home by that time to go to college and didn't see her very often. What I do know is that the fun seeped out of her life very, very slowly and the anger turned towards herself. Although we had always been able to talk about almost anything very openly, all of a sudden she had shut up like a clam. If I was calling her to ask how she was doing, it was like a tape-recorder answering, instead of my lovely, lively sister. A long, heavy time started with her being hospitalized every so often before or after a suicide attempt.

When she was a toddler she used to be mesmerized by wedding gowns. Whenever and wherever we would pass a store with those sparkling, festive gowns we would have to stand still so she could stand in awe. Once we strolled by a store that also had evening gowns on stock and on a mannequin in the window was a bright, green, silk gown. Of course we stopped and she asked our mom: Mommy, is that a divorce dress?
She was always afraid that if I would ever marry, I would forget to invite her. I had to assure her over and over again that she was obliged to come because she was my sister! Not even being interested in boys at the time, I promissed myself that if my wedding day would come, I woud ask her to be my maid of honor. On august 28th, 1996 René and I got married and she was my maid of honor. She had survived and I couldn't be more happy then to have her there that day, knowing how hard life was on her and hoping it would give her maybe a sense of belonging and love. Two weeks later she attempted once again to kill herself. It felt like a personal failure. If only I could let her know how much I loved her and wanted her to be well and part of my life...

During the holidays that same year we went for a walk through the woods and our dog Boxer (a boxer) that she was very fond of was with us. All of us that is: our parents, my other sister and her boy-friend. She seemed to do a little better, had taken up some volunteer work, maybe there was some light at the end of the tunnel? Unfortunately just 2 weeks later, after getting some bad news, she succeeded and her short life ended. She was only 20 years, 3 months and 10 days old and will never ever be a day older.

I am now twice as old as she, she hasn't seen my children been born and grow up, nor our other sister's children. She wasn't at our graduation. She hasn't celebrated our parents 40th wedding anniversay. We have missed her on all the important occasions of our lives. She has left an emptiness that will  not and cannot be filled, left us speechless, left us a song without words.

So here is to the life of my sweet baby sister. As I was beading I realized I was beading her life and not her death and that left me feeling very happy about the result. Because it is her short life that she will be remembered by, not her demise. I do remember.


  1. Hi Dees
    I have been wondering how you are doing. Your piece is beautiful. I am so happy that by beading the piece you were celebrating your sister's life. Perhaps in time you will only remember the good times you shared. I hope so.
    xx, Carol

  2. This is a beautiful tribute to your sister. For all the turbulence in her life, it feels like a very peaceful piece, maybe memories of when she was younger.

  3. your story has me choked up with tears in my eyes. i am so sorry for the loss of your sister at such a young age, but i hear and see how you can celebrate the time you had with her. your piece is beautiful, with such deep, personal meaning. thank you for sharing the story behind it. it's truly a wonderful piece.

  4. A wonderful healing and creation for you. To bring forward all the joy and celebration of the relationship that you shared, and share it with everyone with such feeling. I am honored. thank you for sharing. Peace T

  5. As Lisa said, your backstory had me tearing up. Clearly you loved you sister and miss her, but you have WONDERFUL memories of the life she lived and the beadwork is a beautiful tribute to her life.

  6. What an absolutely BEAUTIFUL beaded tribute to your sister. Unlike the turmoil she suffered, this piece is so calm, fluid, tranquil...and yes, very restful. I love how you integrated so many different beading techniques as well. It's a kind of sampler, in a way, a sampler of your sister's life. Thank you so much for sharing your heartfelt story, in words and in your little beaded jewel of a page!
    p.s. I also enjoyed clicking on your word "felt" which took me to that sweet story of "why" the color blue...

  7. what a beautiful tribute to your sister. I am so sorry about your sister. But I've been there myself and I know what kind of senseless pain there is in our own minds that drive us to put an end to it. I'm saddened every time I hear of someone who doesn't make it through, and I worry constantly that somehow it will happen to me again. So I thank you for reminding me that there are loved ones out there who would miss me and that there is so much more life to be lived.
    warm hugs

  8. Beautiful piece and I agree with others that it has a peaceful feeling. It's a wonderful way to remember your sister and keep the good memories. Thank you for sharing the story.

  9. Thank you for sharing your love and memories of your little sister. Now we will all remember her, too. That tiny bird hairpin is so perfect, and made me a little bit tearful. Your page is a beautiful and peaceful celebration of and for her.

  10. A beautiful tribute of love and peace, especially the sentiment of a Buddha, thank you for sharing so much of what went into it. It's obvious this was a labor of love.

  11. This is so poignant and so full of love. How wonderful that through your art you were able to see your sister once again. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  12. What a tender piece. It's amazing to me what we can uncover, discover, record, and celebrate with beads. This will certainly be a new treasure for the members of your family.

  13. Dear all, I do not have enough words to express how gratefull I am with all your comments. It makes me feel in the right place, at the right time, with the right company. Thank you again for your heartfelt words. I will cherish them and feel strengthened, knowing I am not alone in my loss.

  14. Oh Dees. No matter what you do, you'll always be the oldest sister and the oldest always feels responsible for her younger siblings. You had tremendous courage to bring your sister's life forward in your mind and focus on her for your beaded journal. The color is beautiful -- and I still smile thinking of you trying to fold her up and carry her like a suitcase.

    Why do some people struggle so? I don't know. But I am certain that she knows how much you dearly love her and she is part of your life still. Just look at your beadwork...and she is there. Much love, Susan

  15. This is so lovely and so moving. What a tribute.


Thank you for reading my blog and joining me on my voyage into life with and without beads. I hope it brings you new thoughts and inspiration.
Love to see you back!


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