On July, 9th 2013, my sister died, and her Savior, Jesus Christ relieved her from her suffering. My sister struggled with a illness that took her dreams and her body away. My family and I watched a beautiful, able-bodied woman become disabled and unable to care for herself. My parents were her primary caregivers. They cared for her and loved her. They watched the chaos that the illness spewed out on their daughter. And I waited for my big sister and friend to return to her “old” self, but it did not happen.
There have been some very tough and raw days since July 9th. My family and I contend with our own grief moments. The times that we really miss her. The times that we can only shout to God for comfort. The times we really don’t know how to handle our sadness, but we know that God knows what to do with it.
I thought it would be appropriate to share what I read at my sister’s funeral. Although, my family and I dealt with sadness at the funeral, we were surrounded by family members and friends who loved and supported us. If you have ever been to a Black Christian funeral, you will notice that it is filled with hope! A Black Christian funeral is referred to as a homegoing celebration because we believe that the deceased person is going to be with Jesus in Heaven; their true Home.
The following words are what I shared at my sister’s funeral:
“When I think about my sister, Wanda, I think about a red rose: beautiful, bold and strong. As a young child, I was able to share some wonderful moments with her. My sister was my friend. Even though, there was a 13 year old age difference between us, she didn’t seem to mind being with her kid sister. She saw the importance of spending quality time with me. Wanda and I took the bus to places like the mall. Around Christmas time, she bought presents for our nieces, nephews, and other family members. We also talked about boys. I told her about my “little boy” crushes and she gave me advice on how to deal with my infatuations.
My sister was beautiful. She was well known for wearing red lipstick and being a fashionista. Whatever she wore, she rocked it!
My sister loved her family! She was a wonderful daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, and so much more. Until now, I didn’t realize the magnitude of her relationships with other family members until I heard those family members recount stories of their friendships with her. She was a best friend to all. This shows me how deeply she was loved by others.
Of all the qualities that I have mentioned, I must say that my sister was a fighter. For over 15 years, my sister dealt with illness and every time, she went to the hospital, she returned home with strength still within her. Several times, the doctors said that she only had so much time to live but she lived beyond their expectations. She refused to give up!
As with all of you, I loved my sister. I admired her and wanted to be like her. I wanted to be gutsy and leave Worcester like she did. Wanda went to Atlanta, GA to pursue her fashion degree. I wanted to be as beautiful and strong as she was. I wanted her to get out of the bed that had confined her for years and pursue modeling and other fashion work. I thought about how she could have gotten married and had kids of her own. I know she would have been an exceptional mother because of the love she showed to me and to her nieces and nephews.
Even though, I had these thoughts and desires for her, I have had to remind myself that she lived but now she is living freely in Heaven. Through her periods of well and ill health, she lived bravely. I have already said that I wanted to be like my sister but I think she would tell me to be myself and to shine my own light. I know that Wanda shined her own light while she was on this Earth.”
Thank you so much for reading and allowing me to share my thoughts surrounding my sister!