Thursday, November 02, 2006

In Remembrance

A lot has happened in the past two years. I've had a baby, husband has been to war, mother-in-law had a nervous breakdown, my niece went to live with my in-laws for awhile, I could probably go on and on with things that have happened over the last two years. But most notably, my niece has grown up without a mother, my mother and father-in-law have struggled to make sense of why their daughter was taken and hold on to their granddaughter which is that last little bit of their daughter that remains on this earth, my sister-in-law has struggled with why her sister was taken.
My husband, well, he thinks about his sister every day. He thinks about the relationship they used to have, laughing, telling jokes, playing cards or monopoly, watching tv, listening to music.... having a sister only one year older than him was fun for him. He always had someone to hang out with, they bugged eachother but most of the time it was all in good fun. Then I came along and that relationship was dashed to pieces.
So many things went wrong the last few years before she died. So many questions that will forever remain unanswered.
I once had a best friend. We hung out all the time. We liked the same music, both played tenor sax in concert band (she was a little better than I was! she was always 1st chair and I was always 2nd!), we got our drivers licenses on the same day, we were both quirky and loved nothing more than to laugh and have fun. We were a perfect match. She was quiet and I was loud, I smoked cigarattes and was a little too promiscuous and she wasn't either. We were also perfectly mismatched.
Then my husband, her brother came along and things went terribly wrong.

So, what went wrong???
After I had Louisa, Tabitha, my best friend, was there for me every second. She watched Louisa when I needed a babysitter, she supported me in everything I did, and she helped me to realize that Louisa's bio-father wasn't ever going to form a family with us, he was just leading us on and breaking our hearts.
I knew her younger brother from high school, and I knew he was in the army, and sometimes he would come visit her and she'd joke that I should stop by and "hook up" with him when he was in town. The day he and I met was totally by coincidence, but sparks flew and the rest is history. Part of what went wrong started with this meeting. Tabitha was happy for me that I'd started dating her brother, but she knew my history of dating men and then tossing them when I was finished. She was afraid I would do that to her brother. I, of course, had no intentions on doing that, but I needed to convince her.
The weekend that I knew that husband was driving from Georgia to Wisconsin to propose to me, I, naturally, called my best friend with the absolutely terrific news that we were going to be sister-in-laws! What I was met with was not excitement, but resentment. Tabitha had just gotten engaged to her longtime boyfriend, the loser of which I've spoke about before. So when I called my best friend and future sis-in-law to tell the great news and was met with such a disappointed tone, my heart was broken. "I know," she said, " my mom told me already. My brother is too young to get married, he has plans and goals. What's this going to do to them? And where is he getting money to buy you a ring? He doesn't have very much money, you know!"
The months to follow should have been happy, passing by in a dreamy-eyed daze. My best friend and I planning our weddings together as we had always hoped we would. Shopping for dresses and flowers and cakes and addressing invitations together. We had been talking about this moment for years! What really happened was her fighting me tooth and nail the whole way. For some reason she was not happy for me. Somewhere in the mix of all of this she got pregnant with Eve. So I could chalk it all up to hormones, but I don't think that's what it was.
For years we had always planned to be eachother's maids of honor. We would get so excited talking about it. Then one day, I got a phone call from Tabitha. "Hi.... um..... I kinda have something to tell you..... (long silence)..... I kinda have to ask my sister to be my maid of honor....."
So I think for me, that was the last straw. She had been pushing me away for months for no reason. Then she tells me I'm not even her maid of honor anymore! I end up 3rd in a line of 4 in her bridal party. That showed me where I was in her life.
So I asked my sister to be my maid of honor, after all, I was my sister's and I was honored when she had asked me.
The years passed and Tabitha and I got to a point where, at family functions, her and I were no longer speaking. The last time I saw her was three months before she died at her sister's house for our nephew's birthday party. She passed by me with a cold shoulder.... and that is the last memory I have of my best friend and sister-in-law.

This is us at my wedding:

She had a whole photo album full of pics of her and I from high school, but after she died and I asked her husband for it, he said he hadn't seen it in years. He said he was looking for it to post pics of her and I on the picture boards at the funeral, and he couldn't find it. He told me that she talked fondly of me, after all was said and done. That she always wanted to call up me and her brother and invite us over, but there were certain things standing in her way. He also lies a lot. So I don't know where the truth is in all of this.
Our 10 year high school reunion was this September. I didn't go, but I sent along a tribute that I wrote for Tabitha, along with this picture, for our classmates to remember her by:

In Memory of Tabitha
Tabitha H. passed away on November 2, 2004 at the age of 27. She is survived by her husband, Chris H., 5 year old daughter Eve, stepson Jacob, parents Dave & Alice, sister Annette (Tim), nephew Corey, brother David (Kelley), niece and nephews Michael, Mackenzie & Colton, and brother Andrew (Peggie) niece and nephews Louisa, Andrew Jr. and Hunter.

On November 1, 2004, Tabitha arrived at work at Jewel Osco in Milwaukee where she was a managing supervisor. She collapsed at work and was rushed to the hospital where it was discovered that she had a brain aneurysm and would not regain consciousness again. We said our good-byes and on November 2, 2004, let God take her home.
She was a special woman who made everyone around her happy. We have not found one picture of her that she isn’t smiling in. She was shy and quiet and usually didn’t have a lot to say. But once you got to know her, you couldn’t shut her up!
Tabitha attended West High School and graduated in 1996. She played JV soccer during her 10th and 11th grade years, and Spring City for several years. She played the tenor saxophone in concert band. She was in honors classes and graduated with honors. After high school Tabitha went on to college at UW Milwaukee where she graduated in 2001 with a business degree specializing in human resource. She worked at Jewel Osco in Waukesha for many years before being promoted to one of the Milwaukee area stores. Before she passed away she was offered the promotion she had been hoping for at the corporate office.
In June 2000, Tabitha married her long time boyfriend Chris H. In December 2000 she gave birth to her beautiful baby girl who was the apple of her eye. Tabitha’s daughter, Eve, was 3 when her mommy passed. She carries her mommy close to her heart. Eve is starting kindergarten this fall and it is difficult to watch such a beautiful little girl grow up without her mom. Tabitha would be so proud of her daughter. Eve has many of Tabitha’s mannerisms and it’s wonderful to see that Tabitha’s spirit is very much alive!
Our family has a huge hole in it since Tabitha is gone. We all feel we made the best of our time with her while she was here and we thank God for giving her to us if only for a short while.


kateandjona said...

It is truly a beautiful tribute.
And while Eve is indeed an important part of what her mother left behind, she is not "the last little bit" - as Tabitha remains here, in memories and photographs, in every kind act she ever performed, and in the hearts of those who loved her. Those we loved are never truly gone. We just can't hold them in our arms anymore.

Anna said...

Wow, I'm really touched by what you said. Mostly because in 1994 my best friend Lorelei, who I had been BFF's with since we were 15 years old died of Ovarian cancer. The sad part was because of a lot of stuff going on in both our lives I had pushed her away when she needed me the most and I will never ever forgive myself. Thank you so much for sharing your's and Tabitha's story.
P.S And I think this mean's something: my daughter who is 19 months old is named Morgan Tabitha.

navywife6 said...

Peggie you are truly a kind hearted woman, and if you don't know it already just reread this blog, because it is filled with so much love and kindness.

Thanks for letting us all meet Tabitha. I know we all have someone like her in our lives we need to be reminded that life is short and we can't MISS one opportunity to say I love you, or thank you. So Thank you for for reminding me to call my brother.