For the first time in twelve years, November will be void of the Celebration of Sisters skating event to honor the lives and memories of my beloved sisters Margie and Jane. The month of their birthdays and the anniversary of Jane’s death. How do I feel this month? Good question. The answer is I don’t know.
I fear I have been so busy as no time to think or allow myself which may be good or fall back into the old pattern of suppressing my emotions. Because of a broken foot, grandchildren, speaking engagements, I would not have had the time required to produce Celebration of Sisters. Thankfully, the event had mushroomed into something that required a year’s work of preparation. I am grateful for the beautiful memories and am thinking of bringing back in a few years to celebrate my seventieth birthday.
To channel my focus, I am attending skating camp the first few days of November. I think inwardly my body is feeling the emotions. I am tired and my stomach is telling me I am missing Margie and Jane. I am being pulled in too many directions to have time to remember the birthdays that are around the corner.
In some ways I can’t wrap my head around the years. Jane will be gone for forty-two years on November seventh. She lived for twenty-two years. Next year the two will celebrate milestone birthdays–sixty-five and seventy. I am getting ahead of myself.
As I look at my grandchildren, I see pieces of Margie and Jane. What they are missing watching these three dolls and my lack of sharing them with my sisters. Writing this, the tears are streaming down my cheeks.
Jane and I shared a room until I was fourteen. I wish we didn’t move and went into our own silos. The closeness I felt knowing she was sleeping in the bed next to me always comforting, and I took the role of big sister seriously. Our relationship faltered because of our opposite personalities, but the immense sisterly love shone through. Unfortunately, we never had the chance to develop a bond as adults. Jane would have been a great nursery schoolteacher. I wish she believed in herself.
Margie suffered with her demons but had immense courage. Despite it all she could always read me and knew me better than I knew myself. Smart as a whip she could have done anything she wanted to, but the illness robbed her of the opportunities. We had our moments too, as sisters do, but always came back to one another closer than ever.
I remember the three of us getting dressed up to go into downtown Boston into Stella’s an Italian restaurant in North End. Looking at the pictures, I must laugh. They bundled us up with puffy winter coats, not wearing tights, but lacey white ankle socks and black patent leather shoes. Weren’t our legs freezing? I don’t recall.
Our birthday parties celebrated in our basement with a long, rectangular table. The birthday girl at the head of the table, eating cake and the Hoodsie with the small wooden spoon all smiles surrounded by friends. On November sixth and November eighth to wish Jane and Margie a Happy Birthday, I will eat a cupcake and Hoodsie, and look at the old photos. There will be a hole in my heart, but know my sisters are forever beside me.
Judy Lipson, is the Founder of Celebration of Sisters, an ice skating fundraiser established in 2011 to commemorate the memories of her beloved sisters to benefit Massachusetts General Hospital. Judy has published articles for The Open to Hope Foundation and The Centering Organization. Massachusetts General Hospital and SKATING Magazine featured numerous pieces on Judy’s philanthropic work. Judy appeared as a guest on The Open To Hope and The Morning Glory Podcasts. Her passion for figure skating secured the recipient of U.S. Figure Skating Association 2020 Get Up Award. Judy’s memoir, Celebration of Sisters: It Is Never Too Late To Grieve, released December 2021 by WriteLife Publishing.