People die. Memories Don’t. Pausing to remember the 7th anniversary of my sister’s death.

My sister–Julia Ann Thompson–died on August 16, 2004 in a nasty car accidernt. She was younger than I am now…even though until her death she was always six years older. That’s one of the hardest things for me to get used to. That I could now be older than my older sister.

So, doing the math, this August 16th is the 7th anniversary of her death. People around the world take time to honor the anniversaries of the death of people they love. As I do today.

Her grave is within a stone’s throw of the Big Brown House–where my father grew up, where we grew up, where my father nursed his wife Ruth Thompson before her death, where he continues his days before his own passing.

I’m sitting upstairs in the room that was my sister’s bedroom before she went off to college. I’m sitting here writing on a bed we sisters slept in and talked until we fell asleep. This is the bed where I wrote “Sightlines: A Poet’s Diary” which traces the year following my sister’s death–ending with the poem “Anniversary.”

Her grave lies at the border of my mother’s flower garden and our old horse pasture. Mother’s garden is now mostly mowed back into lawn because we just can’t keep up with the estate-size garden she kept up all those years. Where the horses once roamed there is now an overgrown hill. No fences anymore.

And, so, there Julia’s grave sits; her stone inscribed simply “Beloved.” And she was. Extremely beloved. Today I’ll stroll down to her grave and have a chat with my sister who will never die in our hears.

To read more about my sister Julia Ann Thompson, here is the archive link on Riehlife.And, of course, you can use your search engine to find out more about her activities around the world in experimental physics and for social justice.

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  1. Aunt Janet,
    So glad you are at Evergreen Heights today, a place so filled with memories of Julia and her final resting place. Here’s one of the results from a google search I did, at your urging. The date of her death is embedded in this brief summary of her life’s work, as well as you poem, “Anniversary”. Yes. Beloved. That’s just right. If you don’t mind, will you tell her I said, “Hello” and that I miss her big squeeze hugs, her smile/laugh and her ponytails most of all. Oh, and one more thing, that whenever I see jelly doughnuts I smile and think of her. Sending love to you today. Grrrrrr too. Time passing helps some. The ache is a little less, but it’s still there just the same.

  2. Thank you, Janean. Pop and say of those we loved who died, “You get on with it, but you never get over it.” The hurt and hunger in a part of your heart fuels our compassion.

    Jelly donuts? Do tell.

    The article you found is translated by R. Tyapaev. Julia’s work took her to Novosibirsk (the largest city in Siberia). Chances are that this appreciation was first printed in Russian. julia’s Russian was pretty good as was her German (and Latin!)

    What a gal. Last night at sunset I visited her grave, cleaned it a bit, and had a little chat. She enriched our lives and still does. Always will.

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