Saturday, August 22, 2009

Putting the S in Sister

My sister is shaped like an S again.

Deb has a congenital weakness in her back and has to be careful with it. Moderation does not run in our family, and it's particularly shallow in her veins. This means she ends up flat on her back from time to time. Last summer she had the worst bout ever, one in which her head and shoulders appeared to be walking beside her hips and legs—a distinct S. She was in terrible pain and could not get out of bed for almost two weeks.

From the time she started riding with me in July, her goal was to ride as far or farther than I do. When she worked up to 5 miles the first time, she braked at the end, turned to me and said, "I could ride all the way to your house. Just like you. I could do that." First words out of her mouth.

Last year, Deb's son Brendan taught us to play poker. I didn't really get it and didn't enjoy it. Deb, on the other hand, couldn't get enough. That first night she stayed up until 3:00 am, determined to win one hand. She could not got to bed until she beat him once.

That's all I could think of when she wanted to ride the 8 miles from Mom's to my house, something I do almost daily. She was not going to be able to rest until she did it.

Truthfully, it irritated me just a little. And then I remembered a bowling outing we had at the publishing company where I used to work. Every time it was my turn, I burned with embarrassment. All I could think of was how bad I am at sports and how much of a klutz I am. I hated standing alone in the lane in front of everyone. I hated waiting to see what pins fell. I hated the score coming up on the big lighted screen for everyone to see. Every turn seemed to confirm my inadequacy.

When we got to the end, someone added up all the scores and ranked them. Out of 20 people, my score was third from the top. I had no idea. None. I'd spent the whole afternoon trying not to be the worst, with no idea I was one of the best.

And so, when Deb wanted to make that trip, I heard her not wanting to be the worst. I knew she shouldn't push it, knew she wasn't ready to ride 8 miles after riding 5 only once. I also understood why it was so important to her.

We made the trip a week ago Friday. She hasn't been able to ride since. This Friday, she got out of bed shaped like an S again. The doctor said she had pushed too hard and told her not to ride for another week. He thinks riding is a very good idea, just not so much so fast. She's in pain and I feel terrible.


BONNIE K said...

You shouldn't feel terrible. From the way you describe Deb, that kind of thing would've happened if you had been involved or not. I give her credit for her competitive spirit. It's a shame it has to end her up in bed, though.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Love the re-framing.

Deb Shucka said...

I'm sure your love and compassion will help ease her pain. And you know that you can't learn her lessons for her. Love you.

luckyzmom said...

I am sorry that your sister is in pain and I am even more sorry that you feel terrible.