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How Long Does It Take For a Heart to Heal?

On March 9th, 2013, I realized my sister Bean had been dead for 10 years.  The odd thing about that?  She died on March 7th, so I was two days late in making this realization.

It didn’t occur to me until just a week or so ago, during a phone call with my sister Meg, that none of us – not me, not my mom, and not Megan – talked about Bean on the anniversary of the day she died.  It had become an annual tradition.  Megan and I always called my mom on March 7th, and then my mom always connected the calls so we could all talk to each other.  I think we called Mommy to make sure she was okay, and I feel like she made sure we talked to each other so that the sadness could be overshadowed by the sarcasm and humor that always prevails in our phone conversations.

But why didn’t we all call each other on March 7th this year?

I’m busy.  In school full time, raising my family, sprinkling pixie dust – it all takes a lot of time.  Megan works long days and has had mountains piled on her plate.  My mom is finally feeling well, getting around, doing some shopping, making up for time she lost while she was sick.  Any of those things could have contributed to the missing phone calls.

Or maybe, finally, we have healed.

There will always be pain, especially when I think about the things she didn’t get to see or do – or my kids she never got to know.  But there isn’t crying.  When I think of Bean, there is joy – that we got to do so much with her when she was here, and that we all benefited in this life from knowing her.  There are more stories of good times and happy occasions than there are memories of the circumstances of March 7th, 2003.

So it does happen.  Time does heal all wounds, even those of the heart.

It just takes ten years.

Frances M. (Bean) Bilbrough


Suddenly on March 7 2003. Age 37.
Beloved daughter of Anna and Bob Holak of Medford NJ and John and Ann Bilbrough of Laurel Springs NJ. Dear sister of Anna Skamarakas (Jim) Megan Holak (Brett) Kathleen Flaherty (Paul) and Danny Orbanus (Angela). Loving aunt to Brighid and Eilis Jonathon and Michael Danny and Christian. Bean is also survived by her grandmother Caroline Holak and many aunts uncles cousins and many dear friends.
She was a 1984 graduate of Shawnee High School.
Relatives and friends are invited to visit with the family Tuesday eve from 7 to 9pm and Wednesday morning from 8:15 to 9:15am at GARDNER FUNERAL HOME RUNNEMEDE 126 S. Black Horse Pike Runnemede. Funeral Mass 10am Wednesday morning Annunciation BVM Church Bellmawr. Interment private at the request of the family. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Annunciation Regional School 605 W. Browning Rd. Bellmawr NJ 08031 of which Bean was a volunteer. Expressions of sympathy may be e-mailed to Condolences@GardnerFuneralHome.com

30 Days of Thanks – Day 18 – Bean

When I began my 30 days of thanks, I wanted to think of things a little bit outside the box. I didn’t want to just be thankful for my home, my family, and my friends – I am so grateful for all of those things every day.  But Day 18 – November 18th – is my sister Bean’s birthday.  How could I not be thankful for her?

There were days during her life when I can admit I didn’t always quite appreciate having Bean for a sister.  She was somewhat of a slob.  No, she was an enormous slob.  I was constantly on her about cleaning up her stuff, putting things away, picking up shit she left all over.

When the holidays would come, she would take her disability checks and spend nearly the entire amount on dollar store gifts for my children.  I loved her for wanting the kids to have a huge stack of presents, but wanted to kill her when twenty minutes into Christmas, I was picking up broken dollar store toys all over.

But when her life was over, I had time to how very fortunate we were – in spite of her dollar store spending sprees.  As bad a cook as I am, I knew I could put something on the table that Bean would think deserved to be on the menu at Buckingham Palace.  She never met a person that didn’t like her, and she had friends from all walks of life.  Imagine my surprise when, just after she died, a woman I knew from a Yahoo Group I belonged to for years sent me a note to tell me she had met my sister during a stop at the store where Bean worked MANY years before.  In all the years this woman and I had chatted, she never put two and two together, but when I mentioned Bean’s passing, she remembered her from that casual meeting.  She made an impression and people loved her.

I never had to do anything alone when Bean was alive.  I could drag her to do anything with me, whether it was yet another trip to Walt Disney World, a 30 day trek across country, or to the dentist’s office to hold my hand.  She was always ready and willing to go.

Above everything, I am so thankful that I had her to help me with my youngest two children.  When I moved to Florida, I felt so isolated and alone.  Bean flew down, intending to stay for two weeks, but she always extended her stay for me.  She volunteered at school, she went to all the recitals and feisanna, and she made me a better mom by keeping me from feeling so sad and depressed that I wasn’t able to get up to be a mom.

November 18, 1965.  It is the day my sister was born, and the day I feel like I should have been ensured a partner in crime for life.  There’s so much I’ve gone through that I wish I had been able to have Bean here with me to share, but the sadness I feel at not having her here is quickly replaced by the joy I have in my heart that we had her in our lives at all.

I am forever truly thankful.

For Bean.