Last Things

An Essay

by Debra Spark

This is so well written it made me cry---for the beauty of the lost sister, the beauty of loss, the beauty of love. Kudos to the author.

So I want to know if she really lost a sister to cancer, the story was so, so real. Touching. Sad.

The piece is a personal essay. Yes, Spark lost her sister.

The moment by moment description of telling detail in what I see as anecdote after anecdote is masterly. The string of narrative that connects them all is so impressive. And the author's feelings and insights all through turns a story into an essay. As an aspiring essayist, I'm impressed and wish I had a way of discussing with others what Spark achieved in this piece.

Haunting piece, and very brave.

Still crying so poignant and real it must be true story. Lovely read but o so sad.

So sad. Brave of her to be so real. A gift to all of us who have lost those we love, a gift because she has the words to tell it truly and with so much love.

What a beautiful essay. It was sad of course, but the connection within the family is just one that you don't hear of very often. I'm glad that Cindy had such a wonderful family and her sister Debra.

Spark manages to avoid the cliché pitfalls and sentimentality traps inherent when broaching a very emotional subject: death of a family member, brushing them aside with a light fringe of (un)real detail. Because of the resultant suspension between fiction and nonfiction, the narrative dangled me somewhere between the objective and subjective view of the dying process, somewhat like the journey we might go through when someone close to us actually dies. Spark's agility with her craft gave me an opportunity to participate, then, as a Reader-Bridge, a practical (and morbidly entertaining) crossing over exercise, assimilating a necessary detail of being human along the way: loss.

It's Cyndy's purple dress, her ordering a piece of cake afer her graduation (no, "we're not full"), her black coat, now the writer's, her dear sister. Cyndy was no chazar, and Debra knows that as surely as she knows the sweetness of the chocolate-dipped cookie and the sorrow of Cyndy's death.

Amazing piece of writing! It was as if Ms. Spark wrote it for my good friend, Marie, whose lovely sister, Paula, died of breast cancer that metastasized to her brain and who experienced many of the same symptoms. What a tribute to those who have intimately experienced the death of siblings from cancer.

A terrific read. I am an 8 year veteran of the Big C. So, I've read many versions of families trying to cope with death that comes too soon. This essay is a gift to those of us more intimate with mortality than we'd like. Extraordinary writing and sensitivity. Thank you.

I was so moved by the emotional honesty in this essay. I felt empathy but I also felt camaraderie in that I've lost people I love and didn't have the courage to express my feelings. Thank you for helping me claim what you said, Debra.


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