It’s Boxing Day. This Post’s For You.

Holidays! They pass us by in a daze. Before those of us in the Central Time Zone close our books, officially, on Boxing Day 2012, there’s something I need to share with you.

If you can't pluck 'em, smell 'em. That's what these next posts are all about.

If you can’t pluck ’em, smell ’em. That’s what these next posts are all about.

It’s not exactly mine to share. It came from a friend. This friend has been with me and my family for about 16 years now, from Milwaukee to Thailand and back, from an emergency room in Seattle to post-op in Milwaukee. When she isn’t drinking wine and eating bhel puri with us here, she’s lived in places that we are at best encouraged to avoid and, at most, blocked by U.S. passport or warfare from entering. Darfur and Zimbabwe top that list. Her husband is off to work in Haiti in a few weeks.

So when this friend shares something, when she knows something, I feel it’s truth in my bones. She’s real like that. The post that comes next is written by her, and it feels true. It’s inspired by someone very close to her: a woman I met just once, too briefly. Though it’s inspired by someone I didn’t know, this writing feels familiar and necessary. The sorrow that inspired it, that sense of “before it’s too late” — you’ll feel it when you read it — is elevated by just enough humor to get you through. This should give you some idea of how the woman who inspired “Things I Learned From My Sister” lived five full, hectic, stylish, odds-defying years with terminal cancer.

Posted subsequently in its original form is “Things I Learned From My Sister.” All I did was add some extra punctuation. That’s about all my friend Sharifah needed. Commas, periods, a few extra line breaks.

Practicing lines 8, 9, 11 of "Things I Learned From My Sister" with "Things" author Sharifah, standing second from right.

Practicing lines 8, 9, 11 of “Things I Learned From My Sister” with “Things” author Sharifah, standing second from right.

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