I found out last night that my step-sister Sheryl died last year. While I’m late to the news, the impact is rather profound.
Sheryl was, like any family member I grew up with, complicated. She was the first person to help me out of a traumatic situation when I was a teenager, even though her approach was itself problematic. Decades later, she was my father’s hospice nurse and then stayed on to live with my stepmother after he passed. Both of which were incredible gifts and for which I will always be grateful.
At the same time, Sheryl also played a big role in my current estrangement from my stepmother and always seemed to know how to make a difficult situation a bit more painful for me. And yet I felt tremendous compassion for her, at times even admiration. Most certainly love and kinship on more than one occasion. Her life was not easy. And any meanness was easily traced back to the weird way in which the rare good parts of my childhood touched directly on her points of pain. That isn’t to excuse her behavior; only to recognize that she also had an incredibly huge heart that was filled with as much kindness as it was with suffering.
While my father took his final breaths, Sheryl rubbed his chest and repeated “All is well. All is well. All is well.”
My prayer is that someone extended the same kindness to her in her final minutes. All is well, Sheryl. All is finally well.