One year.

Remembering Elizabeth Hetherington Sailing in Beijing | Art Therapy with Kimberly

I couldn’t help but feel anxious about this day’s inevitable arrival. The smell and chilliness in the air serving as an agonising reminder of that cold morning on October 13th, 2013.

I will never forget the way my dad spoke the words:

“Elizabeth died.”

It brought me to the floor.

How do you heal from the death of a loved one?
How do you stop yourself from missing someone you love so, so much?
How do you accept that you will never see that person ever again?
How do you heal?

I really don’t know. All I know is that I miss her and I always will, for the rest of my entire life. I miss our inside jokes about my Dad and how ridiculous he is. I miss being able to laugh at stupid youtube videos. But above all, I miss all the things that will happen in life, that she will not be here to see. The things that have changed and are changing, even the small things like a new song I think she’d like. I miss her so much, and nobody can ever fill that. It’s just a large gaping hole in my life that I try so hard to pretend isn’t there. So I put a thin sheet over it and hope it’ll somehow be enough. I just don’t know how to heal from this. I don’t even know where to begin. My whole life she has been with me, beside me, as we both made our way through the world of the foreign service. I thought we were going to grow up together.

But now, here I am. Sitting at my computer, trying to comprehend, to accept, that this actually happened. She died. And I didn’t even get to say goodbye and give her a hug.

Losing my sister has brought me to depths of sadness I have never felt before. It has pulled my mind into dark places, to the unknown. To “what is the point of life?” over and over again. And realizing that there is absolutely no point. “It’s all just a random lottery of meaningless tragedy and a series of near escapes.”

And although that may sound like a depressing thought, it’s not meant to be. To me, even though there is no point, It’s still worth it. Losing my sister has forced me to realize that life is not permanent. And because of that, we might as well make the best of it while we’re here. Doing more of what makes you happy and less of what doesn’t. Taking chances. Embracing the unknown, the rejections, the mistakes, the sadness. Loving, learning, and laughing. Finding the beauty and happiness in everything in life. It’s all just temporary.

My sister left this world on a truly beautiful day, Thanksgiving. In the spirit of this day, I will find the room in my heart to feel thankful.

I am thankful to get the chance to live in Beijing with my always inspiring father. This city is filled with opportunities and interesting experiences. Although at first, I felt intimidated and uncomfortable, now I feel encouraged and confident. Every time I go into a situation that is miles outside of my comfort zone. Whether it be professionally, or socially, I can hear Elizabeth cheering me on and pushing me forward. And I think about how sad it is that she herself won’t be getting to have any more of these experiences. And because of that, I have no choice but to give it my all. I will make her proud, I will live life for the both of us.

I am also thankful for the community I have become a part of in Beijing. The people that make this place worth it. For all the wonderful spirits I have met here who are helping me through the biggest loss I have ever had to endure. Thank you, to everyone I interact with, even in the smallest moments, you have helped me. I truly love those who have been attracted to this city, all coming from different parts of the world, searching for something unique, something more. A place to start all over. I commend that and I understand that. It’s not easy to give up all you know for a place you know nothing about. That shows character, courage, and adventure. That is nothing short of inspirational to me.

So thank you to all the people; to the struggles, the pain, the love and the happiness that I have felt so vividly and deeply this past year.

And above all else, thank you to my beautifully sweet sister who I truly hope is somewhere amazing. I hope she is smiling and laughing and snuggling with Quiggybear and Tatters. I hope she is somewhere with lots of animals, with warm water so she can swim and dive off docks again and again. Where she can freely eat fried calamari, all-dressed chips, pickles, and Nutella without consequence because wherever she is, calories and fat don’t exist. So she will never have to say, “my diet starts tomorrow!” ever again. Even though it always made me laugh when she did. I hope there is a dry spot with blank canvasses, and paint, and pencils and cameras for her to release all of her creative talent. And maybe even Judge Judy and real-life crime show marathons playing on a big screen with pillows and blankets for her to snuggle up in.

I hope she is there.

Although she may not be here physically, she is shining through me every single day. She is my light, and she is my inspiration.

Happy Thanksgiving.

1 Comment

  1. I was about to wish her a happy birthday on fb, only to notice her passing. I still remember your house, off of Viewmount Drive :). I remember you guys from Parkwood Hills Days (Ottawa), and whenever you moved we were out of touch until I bumped into her on a night out in Ottawa during university days. So sad to hear about her passing…what happened?

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