As Told By Tracy: Whole

There’s a small scar above my left eye, a keepsake from the time my sister and I tried to dig our way to China. I don’t remember the exact thought process that led to this bold venture, but since I was 5 and she was 13, I’m sure our reasoning was perfectly sound. I’m also sure that living in southeastern Idaho played a role in the decision because 1) We had nothing else going on, and 2) Local authorities hadn’t yet enacted any laws against minors procuring gardening shovels, ladders, and gas lanterns, and 3) There were plenty of other kids around who were eager to help (probably because we promised them fields of free fortune cookies upon job completion).

The digging went really well for the first few hours, but the hole eventually became too deep for my stubby shoveling arms. After that, my job was to stay out of the way so the taller kids could continue burrowing towards earth’s core. I distinctly remember my sister telling me to keep away from the edge so I wouldn’t get clobbered by an errant shovel, but I couldn’t resist clambering next to her side to celebrate what we started.

That was 42 years ago. I don’t remember much about my trip to the hospital that day, but know my dad refilled the hole as soon as we got home. I understood he didn’t want anyone else getting hurt, but I was immensely disappointed that the adventure with my sister was over. I fully believed, though, there were endlessly more still ahead of us.

Instead, cancer cut her life tragically short 13 years ago this month. My friend and constant protector was suddenly gone, and her absence felt cavernous. I kept hoping someone would come along and fix it. I wanted them to cover the grief, to smother the anger. I wanted them to bury the hurt. But no one ever did.

Because no one ever could.

It took me a long time to realize the only way to mask all the pain would be to mask all the memories. And all the scars. And all the joy and the laughter and the love. And without all of them, I would be nothing at all.

So today I clamber back to the edge of her absence to celebrate what we started. It mostly still hurts like hell, but the pain confirms that she mattered. That our time together was profound. That my love for her hasn’t faded. And that our adventure, perhaps, isn’t over.

Thank you to Tracy so much for such a beautiful, raw post. It is an honour to remember your sister on our blog. If you would like to read more of Tracy’s story, head over to his wonderful blog

If you would like to submit a post to our blog, feel free to do so at, and DM us on social media @thegriefreality

Have a beautiful day everybody!

Photo by Evee

22 thoughts on “As Told By Tracy: Whole

  1. Wow! I’m in tears, as I have a sister too, and life would be bereft without her. Thank you for sharing your grief and what you have learned from this experience. You benefit us all. Warmly, C

  2. That’s a beautiful but painful memory in so many ways. I guess the scar is a constant memory of your sister, so in that way, it’s a beautiful scar that will never fade. ♥️

  3. A beautiful post. Everyone deals with loss in his/her own way, but I beg to disagree. One should not “mask the memories”. Just store them away. And wait. Until the day a memory comes back with a smile. Then you know you will be all right. 🙏🏻

  4. These words by Tracy hit me profoundly: “It mostly still hurts like hell, but the pain confirms that she mattered. That our time together was profound. That my love for her hasn’t faded. And that our adventure, perhaps, isn’t over.” I’ve never been able to look at suffering the pain of losing a loved one with a positive meaning before. Simply confirming that the pain means that the person mattered is so poignant and meaningful! Thank you for sharing this and thanks to Tracy for writing it!

  5. It is really sorry for your loss but eventually we have to carry on. We can depend on others to make us happy but it isn’t so in reality, we solely are the ones responsible who can make us happy or sad. Childhood days are the most remembered and cherished moment in every ones life. May you get a wonderful company in 2021 and Happy new year.

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