Forever in My Heart

Carol RoachStarred Page By Carol Roach, 23rd Feb 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Death>After-life

This article covers the events that led up to the death of my sister on Wednesday Jan 26th, 2006.


We are born, we live on this earth for a short period of time and then we return to our creator. My sister is gone now, that is the harsh reality of life. But I must believe that the afterlife is a much better place than this earth even with all its pain and beauty. I must believe it otherwise my sister's life and death were in vain.

No frame of referrence

My sister's earthly existence was not a pleasant one. As a baby she was fostered out and never had a chance to ever meet her father. I remember meeting my sister just once in our childhood. My mother took me to visit her. I was about 9-years-old, which made her about six.

Even though she did not know us, it was evident that her biological family was in her thoughts. She showed me her two dolls, the bigger one she called Linda. The smaller one she called Carol after me. I remember being insulted. The biggest doll should have been named after me; I was the oldest sister. But as I look back as an adult I now realize the situation she was put into. How was she to know, she had no frame of reference?

Her real family was estranged from her. Prior to this occasion she never met any of us. All she knew was what her new family told her about us. Lost on me at the time was the fact that she still cared enough about her family to name her dolls after sisters she longed to know and love. It was her way to incorporate her biological family into her little girl sense of the world.

Debbie was lost to us

The events after our brief encounter were foggy. I never saw my sister Debbie again. My mom never talked about her. Until one day, out of the blue my mom announces that she could not find Debbie. The family she lived with moved out of town and did not leave a forwarding address.

My childhood changed forever. One day I had a sister and then the next day I didn't. One day Debbie had a biological family and then the next day she didn't. I remember feeling a sense of lost yet; I do not remember it to be a very strong one.

I wonder how Debbie felt all those years? Did the family tell her they purposely chose to sever all contacts with us? Or did they tell her that we did not want contact with her? In some ways I could hardly blame them if they did.

My sister Linda and I were children; we had no control over the situation. Debbie was a child and neither did she. Yet, the pain of feeling rejected would be a scar that would remain with her the rest of her life. Deborah Joyce Buckingham ceased to exist. Any association with her birth family was lost forever.

I wondered about her during my adolescent years and I swore that I would find her some day. Time has a way of sneaking up on us and I never had the chance. I got caught up in my own life, subsequent marriage, divorce, and then the death of my beloved grandmother.


According to Carl Jung's theory, synchronicity explains meaningful coincidences. Was it synchronicity that led Debbie back into our lives just as another family member departed from this world? My sister returned to us, only she was no longer Debbie Buckingham. She was now Joyce Tremblay.

My mother found her. She placed an ad in the newspaper and a friend of Joyce's saw it. Joyce responded. It then took her years to reintegrate into the family and years to allow the scars to heal. She was a person used to rejection; she lived with it all her life.

Joyce returned to our family with a ready made family of her own. She had a boyfriend and three children. Her oldest son was sixteen-years-old at the time, the same age she was when she gave birth to him. He was the product of the union between a teenage girl and her 40-year-old teacher, who incidentally left her when he found out she was pregnant. Here was another rejection in my sister's life, another person she loved, to leave her world.

The relationship with the father of her second child did not last either, and Brigitte the third child, the baby of the family, was the product of the union between my sister and her current boyfriend Germain.

My sister had gone through a lot of boyfriends and a lot of heartbreak and breakups, but at least she was settled now, she had Germain, Brigitte their child, and Jean and Patrick from previous relationships. This new relationship was stable only the demons of the past still haunted her.

Suicide and depression

We watched Joyce struggle throughout the years to integrate within our family and we saw her struggle to maintain a good life for her own little family. Joyce loved her man and her children dearly. Unfortunately, the family was fraught with troubles. They had hardly any money to live on and life was hard. The sad part of it was, when you think life can get any worse, it usually does. Patrick her eldest son committed suicide at the age of 21.

My sister was destroyed. She tried to take her own life twice because of it. For two full years she remained in a state of depression. She cut herself off from her friends and her family. But somehow she pulled through. The desire to live once again engulfed her soul. She was starting to feel happy again, to embrace life, and to want to live long enough to see her future grandchildren.

Bone cancer

Again life played a cruel trick on Joyce. Just when she ready to embrace the world once more, my precious long suffering sister developed bone cancer. She suffered for five long years in pain and agony.

My other sister, Linda, my mother, and I were tested as possible bone marrow donors but we were not a good fit. My sister was also removed from the national bone marrow transplant list after she suffered a mini stroke. The doctors claimed she was too far gone to receive treatment.

Yet, she lived on. In October our family suffered another terrible blow. Joyce had now developed throat cancer. We wondered why one defenseless woman should have to go through so much.

My sister was strong

My sister's will to live was strong. She underwent three operations since October. The first of the three caused her to have another stroke, and this one stopped her from speaking and left her paralyzed on the left side of her body. She was also temporarily blinded.

We were apprehensive about her undergoing the following two operations at this terminal stage, but my sister insisted. I have not met a more courageous woman in my life. The doctors performed a tracheotomy. They placed a voice box in her throat so she could talk with the aid of this mechanical devise. We were devastated by her condition, but my sister forged ahead; refusing to let go.

Wednesday Jan 26th, 2006

Last Sunday my mother visited with Joyce, as she had done every Sunday before that. My sister Linda and I could not do it. We could not bear to see her that way. To be honest, she weighed sixty-eight pounds and no longer looked human. She looked like the living dead; something dreamed up for a Hollywood horror film. My mom didn't care, this was her child. She would be there to comfort her no matter what.

Joyce gave her the best present she ever could. When my mother arrived she was sitting up in bed. The doctors said that she was completely throat cancer free. The last operation and subsequent chemo treatments had worked. She could also see again. They were going to do one last operation to seal up her throat. They had taken the voice box out.

Joyce smiled at my mom and said in her own voice,
"I love you."

Those were the last words ever said by my sister. On Wednesday Jan 26th, 2006 at 9:30 pm, my sister passed away.

Her life was hard and her illness harder. She was estranged from her biological family for so long, reintegrated into the family and then taken away from us just as quickly. Yet even in her last days on this earth she left my mom with the greatest gift of all. She left my mom with the gift of love.

Joyce, you are my sister and my hero. I only wish that I could be half the woman that you were. You are at peace now my sister, and I rejoice. You are pain free and home at last. You are looking over us now from that great home in the sky and I know that you are finally happy for the first time in your life.

Love transcends all barriers, for love is eternal and love conquers all.
I cannot say goodbye, because you will be forever in my heart.

All photos taken from the common domain

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Bone Cancer, Death, Dying Sister, Sisters, Throat Cancer, Tracheotomy

Meet the author

author avatar Carol Roach
Retired therapist and author of two books, freelance writer, newsletter editor, and blogger. I write, health, mental health, women's issues, animal , celebrity, history, and SEO articles.

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author avatar Deepizzaguy
24th Feb 2015 (#)

I am sorry to know about the loss of your sister. The good news is that you will see her in the next lifetime according to a book called "Believe It Or Not. The Bible Does Not Promise Heaven." written by the late Garner Ted Armstrong.

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author avatar Jenny Heart
24th Feb 2015 (#)

I am sorry for your loss! I have lost 3 loved ones in the last 4 years and it was hard but i have found peace about it all. My late husband died in a tragic motorcycle wreck, my dad of colon cancer and a boyfriend to liver cancer. I am like your sister i am a fighter. Now i have put the past behind me and want to be happy for my loved ones would want it that way. God pulled me through it all and he will pull you through as well. I was hooked into this story as sad as it was you did a great job on it

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author avatar Kingwell
24th Feb 2015 (#)

I am so sorry for your loss. It is clear that although she had a difficult life she did want to recover and go on living. I feel certain that you will meet again as only the body dies, we as spiritual being will never die. She is with her son now too who has also found peace. Blessings.

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author avatar spirited
24th Feb 2015 (#)

"I must believe it otherwise my sister's life and death were in vain."

A touching story Carol.

I like to think that nothing is ever in vain, so I couldn't agree with that statement, up to a point that is, but I do see that if God didn't exist, perhaps everything would be in vain, so I guess that is the wider point you are making here.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
28th Feb 2015 (#)

Touching post Carol. I believe we are here on a brief sojourn; those who bear more hardship will have a lighter and more blissful ride hereafter as the saying goes the darkest hour is before dawn. I can connect with your feelings as we are cut from the same cloth - siva

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