What I should have said…

A couple of years ago, my nephew Jason introduced google photo to me. After trying it for 5 minutes, I gave up. This year, again, Jason created a google photo album to share our family gathering photos. Seeing how much he liked the product, I decided to give it another try.

Those who are familiar with google photo know that one of its features is that it will automatically create some collage or photo album for you based on the photos on your PC. Because of that, suddenly, I saw a lot of Karin’s photos. My sister Karin passed away 4 years ago.

I miss Karin. Even now, I often have an urge of calling her. We used to talk often… whenever she had discover a new kitchen tool or an amazing face cream, saw a good TV show, or found a good travel package; whenever I needed a recipe, was bored, or wanted to hear her voice… Talking to her made me happy.

One day, after Karin had her chemo treatment, we went to a restaurant that she frequently visited. A waiter, who was not serving at our table, stopped by and warmly greeted Karin. I wasn’t surprised. Karin was well-liked at that restaurant. One time when one of the waitresses had a family emergency but didn’t have money to go home, without any hesitation, Karin gave her some money.

Karin definitely had a big heart. She had sponsored some needed children oversea for many years, and whenever someone asked for help, she seldom said no. I had a discussion with her about this one time. “How do you know they are telling you the truth?” I asked.

“They wouldn’t lie to me,” she said.

“In that case, I need some money, too.”

“How much?” she said, and paused. She then looked into my eyes and added, “You are my sister. If you need money, let me know, okay?”

That day at the restaurant, I watched that waiter chatting with Karin excitedly. He asked why they hadn’t seen her for a while. He wanted to know how her summer was. They seemed having a great time talking to each other. With a huge smile still hanging on his face, suddenly, he pointed at her cap and asked: “Why are you wearing that today? I have never seen you wear a cap.”

Karin struggled to keep a smile on her face; she, clearly, didn’t know what to say. She looked at me, her eyes begging for help. I didn’t know what to say either. I didn’t know what I could say that wouldn’t hurt Karin’s feeling. I didn’t know what I wanted to say.

We sat there looking at each other. I prayed that by making eye contact with her, I could somehow comfort her. Eventually, the waiter figured out. He quickly walked away.

This whole experience bothered me. I failed protecting Karin when she needed me the most. I had been thinking about this, wondering what would be the right thing to say, and I haven’t come up with anything that would satisfy me. The truth was: I didn’t want my sister get sick. I refused talking about her illness.

Recently, I spent a lot of time staring at Karin’s photos. It finally dawned on me that no matter how unwilling I was at that moment, I should tell the truth. I should have said, “Karin is having chemo. We are happy that she is doing well.”

Sometime silence hurt. I felt it then. I feel it, still.

(I miss you, Karin.)

Thanks for visiting my blog.


About Helen C

A retired computer programmer who loves writing and photographing, and has managed to publish a YA novel "Jin-Ling’s Two Left".
This entry was posted in Memoir, random thoughts, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to What I should have said…

  1. Pilgrim says:

    Moving story. I would like to agree with you about silence. Sometimes, we just don’t know what to say. I’m sorry that it still hurts. I’m sure you have told her you love her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Good morning, Perpetua. In a way, I was lucky. I retired at the end of Feb. that year — I almost decided not to, so I had a chance to spend the whole month of July with Karin, and later one week in Sept. with her. Even though she was ill, she still wanted to show me places that she thought I should see. I was amazed at how energetic she was, didn’t realize that we would lose her two months later.
      We often say “treasure this moment”. I think I did.
      Have a wonderful day.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Raj says:

    I think you did the right thing as you don’t know what actually Karin wanted to say..I think she wouldn’t mind your silence..She will understand. Whatever it is, its a sweet memory now.. We don’t know our destiny but its important that we remain in someones memory..if we do .. that is the whole achievement. Great thought Helen!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Raj. You are right – it is a sweet memory now. Karin will always remain in my memory, and that alone is an achievement.
      I am hoping that by telling my story, I can help others in some way. It’s not what we say; it’s how we say it… Well, that’s my original goal. Then I miss Karin so much that I took to a different path. Come to think of it, this may have something to do with “framing” your story? 😉
      Good night.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. loisajay says:

    Helen–I think you did the right thing. Maybe it is just me, but I don’t want other people answering for me. You and Karen knew what was going on, but the silence meant you wanted to keep it just between the two of you. The waiter left because he knew. Sometimes the silence says what we cannot speak.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Lois. Hmm… I never asked Karin what was in her mind at that time… You are right that silence says what we cannot speak. I won’t feel so uncomfortable from now on! Thank you!
      I wish “pass away” means we can’t see the person all the time, but we can still see him/her once a year or something like that… 😉
      Have a wonderful day.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Amy says:

    We may not need to answer all questions people have, especially when we can’t find right words to say/express at the moment. Hope photos that you have kept on Google remind you the good times you had with Karin.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Good afternoon, Amy. It was one of the awkward moments for sure. I remember wanting to hold Karin in my arms, but we sat across the table so I couldn’t.
      Yes, all those photos brought back a lot of sweet memories. I know how blessed I am to have a sister like her.
      Have a wonderful day.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Anabel Marsh says:

    A lovely photo of you and your sister. You must miss her terribly. I wouldn’t blame yourself too much – I’m sure none of us would have known what to say, and maybe the waiter wouldn’t have known what to respond and was glad not to have to. You did your best for Karin, that’s obvious.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Helen C says:

      Thank you, Anabel. Yes, I miss Karin terribly. She was a big part of my life; I was so used to let her take care of me 😉 It is life, I guess.
      After writing about it, I felt much better. I am ready to catch up with you guys’ Monday walks now. 😉
      Have a wonderful day.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely photos and memories. I’m sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dymoon says:

    a beautiful sharing, thank you..

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lady Oscar says:

    Dear~ Thank you very much for sharing your story. I learned a lesson from it and also from Karin as well. Being as kind as Karin bringing the world more warmth and positive energy. Let’s keep on walking. The Path.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. prior.. says:

    Ok / so I am getting caught up on some posts here and of course I had to come to a tear jerker one – well almost – you kept it moving along just right – but also wrote so beautifully about this sad topic –
    And u know I have to offer my view on the silence part – cos I have a few times when I remainded silent – and maybe even froze – and in hind site would have gone bwck and said such and such – but I’m a true beleiver in sometimes the moment dictates what it needs and we really need to watch how we second guess – ((says the one who can mull and mull )) and I have had times of maybe saying too much and wishing I had been muted – hah -and the part about looking back is that it is always biased – it often misses details that were crucial – and we have to really not second guess – and u know H – chemo is a big deal and when a loved one is sick there is too much going on in the heart – from shock to fear to worry – and I the awkward moment maybe ne red slender.
    Anyhow –
    Your sister spells her name just like one of my best friend’s – and sorry for your loss – oh and how cool it mus have been (or still is) to see the google slideshows –

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      >> in sometimes the moment dictates what it needs and we really need to watch how we second guess…

      Thanks, Yvette. Great advice. You were right, there were many times that I had said something, and later regretted. I should stop second guessing from now on! Thanks.
      Have a wonderful day. I am so glad that you are back.

      Liked by 1 person

      • prior.. says:

        Thanks for saying that (about being back) and I am glad to be back!
        And again tho – I think times of second guessing have value / maybe at times – it helps us refine future responses maybe.
        Like I have seen in my life how refinement has worked both ways.
        “I’m staying silent right now cos I have seen similar circumstances that backfired when I said stuff.”
        “Hmmm – I’m chiming in here cos I know the last time I stayed silent in a similar situation I should have risked speaking up…”

        Anyhow – as I read the post what I sensed was that maybe you were more in tune with the situation than you even know – we always say dogs can sense stuff – but humans have a sixth sense – especially extra developed in some people – ya know ?

        Liked by 1 person

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