Not many know, but I have an older sister; her name is Madeleine Louise Jacques; her name was composed of my maternal and paternal grandmothers. She was born August 27, 1968 in Kingston, Ontario. If she were alive today, she would be 54 years old. I never met my sister. No one did. Not even my Mom had a chance to meet her. She wasn’t miscarried, she was carried full-term and she was the first of four children my Mom would birth.
My Mom had never felt more alive as she carried what she thought was a thriving life. There was not one indication anything was wrong with Madeleine. It was an easy pregnancy and my Mom couldn’t wait to meet her. My Dad was away at sea when my Mom had gone into labour. Something had told him, like a download of information from God or an angel, my Mom had lost the baby. When he reached out to the hospital, he already knew Madeleine was gone. My Mom was destroyed, she blamed herself and wondered what she could have done differently to have saved her; she blamed her genetics for the multiple birth defects which were revealed upon birth.
The doctor said there were so many things wrong with Madeleine, some how her heart was on the outside of her little body, she had a cleft pallet and if she had survived it would have been a lifetime of surgeries and therapy, and likely I would have not been born, being the fourth in line. The doctor said most women would have miscarried within the first trimester, and my Mom must have wanted her so badly, her body refused to give up on her. When Madeleine took her first breath outside of my mothers womb, it was in another room away from her Mom, as she was rushed out of the room as the doctor tried to save her life. My Mom never held my sister and she never saw my sister, which has haunted her to this day.
I often wonder why Madeleine had held on for so long since there was so much wrong with her physically and I believe she felt so loved and wanted by my Mom, she couldn’t bear to leave her. She was so wanted and so absolutely loved, she wanted to stay for as long as she could. She wanted to give this life a go, but her tiny body couldn’t sustain itself outside the love infused womb which carried her.
Is it odd for me to be writing about a sister I never met. All my life I have felt Madeleine’s presence, yet I have more so felt her absence. I always wanted an older sister and I was so jealous of my girlfriends who were blessed with sisters. A sister to watch over me, one I could play with, one who could have given me dating advice in this crazy modern world, a wardrobe I could invade and I would imagine arguments of a borrowed sweater being in the dirty pile of laundry and Madeleine asking my Mom to tell me to stop borrowing her clothes and to stay out of her closet. A sister who would help me with my parents as they age as both my brothers don’t have the motherly love which comes so naturally to women. It would be nice to be able to rely on someone else besides myself. I thought about living with her once I graduated high school and how as young adults we would be each other’s greatest allies.
When I had to say goodbye to my beloved cat, Ernie in 2012, I asked God if he would ask Madeleine to look after her while I finish up this life on earth. One night while I was grieving the loss of Ernie, questioning my choice to let her go, I was crying so hard, but was alerted by an audible meow from Ernie for when she wanted my attention. In this quick moment, I had a flash of a vision, which I know sounds odd and woo woo, many if not most will not understand, but I saw Madeleine who looked like a young version of my Mom, holding Ernie smiling. She was tall, slender with dark brown hair and what shook me was she had blue eyes like me. Both my parents have brown eyes and both my brothers have brown eyes. In the image/ vision flash the colours were so vibrant and real; it gave me tremendous peace to know both my sister and Ernie were together and some day I will see them both.
it is odd to love someone you never met. I can understand my Mom missing her and loving her as she carried her for nine months, but as for me, I don’t know… I don’t think either of my brothers think of her ever, but I think of her all the time.
Madeleine, you were always wanted and deeply loved. I know you know this, some day we will see each other again, and it will be for longer than a flash in time.
Peace & Love – Rachel