CharlieMC (charliemc) wrote,

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Reflections on Life -- and About My Sister, Marilyn

Marilyn mistressmarilyn and I stayed up quite late talking, after finally getting to bed last night.

She had a pretty miserable day yesterday, though nobody heard her complain. First thing (right before her weekly manager's meeting), she called our friend Ron and found out that they'd taken his wife Carol (a wonderful friend -- and member of the board) off life support.

Ron was sitting there beside her, waiting for Carol to die. And what did he do? He invited Marilyn to come up and be with him. She went briefly to her meeting, asked Jenny (department manager) if she, too, wanted to go -- and then headed to the hospital to be with Ron and Carol. Unfortunately, Carol passed away before they arrived. Or maybe fortunately. As Marilyn said to me last night, she's never actually watched anyone die... Maybe she isn't meant to. She has such a vivid imagination and excellent memory that she'd probably carry those images to the grave.

I think it's a very special sign of how much Marilyn is loved and respected by others that Ron asked her come in the first place. It's generally a time for family and close friends -- not for those you work with, however closely. But Ron knew Marilyn saw Carol as more than someone she worked with. In fact, he knew she saw him as more than the spouse of someone she worked with, too.

I can't tell list how often people turn to Marilyn during a crisis. Others admire her strength and seem to instinctively know she'll be there, no matter how hard it is for her.

As Marilyn's sister and confidant, I can reveal that this was very hard on her. She's been in constant contact with Ron since Carol's hospitalization -- and was ready when he needed her. But she was very emotional and heart-sore last night.

The Executive Director of Marilyn's non-profit had expected Marilyn not to come back in to work after that, but of course she did. In fact, she went the rest of the day without a single break (except one bathroom call). She even ate her sandwhich at a work table while helping with a mailing project. She told me how she forced herself to offer a smiling face and chitchat to others as required, knowing that in spite of loss, life goes on...

And as we talked last night, I saw just how brave a person can be in the face of personal loss.

Marilyn amazes me. Yes, she always has -- and I never take her for granted. She's a wonderfully witty, warm and compassionate person. She was also anxious yesterday -- while in the middle of making calls to others to tell them about Carol's death -- to make sure she was available to give a good reference for one of the women the organization recently had to let go. That woman is more than an employee to Marilyn -- she's a friend. And as hard as it is to see the woman move on to a different job, Marilyn wants the best for her.

I realize that people have a lot of issues in their lives. I understand clinical depression. Seriously, I've got friends and family members who are depressed and under a doctor's care. But I just have to say that days like yesterday simply put things in the proper perspective for Marilyn and me. The world is about many small -- and big -- things going on. Life and death is a big thing. Our petty day-to-day inconveniences are small things -- and we can deal with them better when we remember they aren't really a big deal. Thankfully Marilyn and I don't need reminding to keep this perspective. Which is one of the reasons why we manage to stay content -- and even happy -- almost all the time. It's not about ignoring the angst and drama in life -- we both know how hard the world can be. It's about recognizing that the world doesn't revolve around the two of us.

I don't begin to talk enough here about happiness. Marilyn and I have spent a lifetime being happy -- and positive -- people. I can't think of a time that others haven't been curious about how we manage both things. Or envious. I've thought about it many, many times. I've started long and rambling posts about happiness. (I've even considered writing a book about it.) Let me just say in a nutshell -- the short version -- that happiness doesn't just happen. A person has to be willing to take control of their own happiness or unhappiness. It's work, in other words! And I've found that most people would prefer to avoid the work and be unhappy. That's the sad fact of the short version...

Yes, I know all the excuses for being unhappy. I've heard them. We've all got plenty of issues that could make us miserable, if we let them. But again, if a person is willing to work at it, they can become a happy and positive person. It requires a willingness to change, of course. And the ability to face life head on. Bad things do happen to good things. Bad things happen to everyone, frankly. But it's how a person deals with bad things that matters.

I continue to be grateful that I'm close to a person who can face myriad bad things each day and still turn 'lemons into lemonade' -- and do so with enormous grace and humor! (And while she's at it, she'll try to mentor younger (or less experienced) individuals, support the people around her who need support and just share her wittiness with others.)


Not at all. That's my point. I mean it when I say that Marilyn is extraordinary...

(I just hope I'm half as good at sharing myself with others as she is...)

Tags: death, happiness, marilyn

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