We lost my big sister Syble on July 24th from undiagnosed gall bladder cancer. She had been sick, but we assumed the doctors would figure out what was going on and she would be back to normal soon. I’d like to share her obituary and the words I shared at her service here so I can easily share them and find them myself when I miss her (which of course has been every day so far).

Her Obituary 

Our family would like to share the heartbreaking news that Syble Dean Wood of Pearland, TX passed away on July 24, 2022 due to undiagnosed gallbladder cancer at age 44. She is survived by her parents, Carl and Thresia Wood who have been her lifelong caregivers. She is also survived by her sister Sandra Peoples, brother-in-law Lee, and nephews David and James and her sister Sarah Bolstead, brother-in-law Jason, and nieces Jayme and Carly. Her loss is also mourned by her aunts, uncles, cousins, and many friends.
Syble was born on December 27th, 1977 in Duncan, Oklahoma. As she was growing up, she was supported by many teachers, therapists, and friends through the Duncan school system and at First Baptist Church, Duncan. In 1997 she moved with her parents to Pearland, TX where she returned to high school, making new friends there and through her involvement at First United Methodist Church, Pearland. As an adult, she worked numerous jobs and enjoyed volunteering at Christian Helping Hands food pantry in Pearland. Her life was a gift to everyone who knew her, especially her family members who loved her and looked forward to receiving birthday cards from her each year.

What I shared at her service

Sarah spoke first and talked about Syble’s personality and passions. It was perfect. She represented our big sister so well! Then I shared a challenge for those who love her to be more like her …

Thank you so much for joining us here today as we celebrate the life of Syble. I’m Syble’s younger sister by just 14 months. We grew up together, looking like twins when we were toddlers. Because we were so close in age, I thought often about our future together.

When I was in elementary school, I planned to work a good job and have a rich husband so we could build a little house for Syble near our swimming pool. When I met my now-husband Lee and thought he might be the one on date number two, I told him about her and that she would always be a part of my life. And recently we joked that all our plans for the future would include Syble and our son James who has profound autism. Party of 4 forever.

There has never been a day I didn’t consider Syble in my future plans. I couldn’t even imagine my life without her. But when I went to bed Sunday night, I knew I’d wake up in a world without her in it—in a future I never imagined.

If Syble were here, she would tell you I’m a little bossy. My resume says “strong leadership skills,” but to be honest, she’s right. I can be bossy. So today I’m going to boss you a little bit. Because I have to face this future without her, I need you to fill the loss I will feel. The loss we will all feel. I need you to be a light in the world like she would have been. Sarah shared so many of her characteristics and passions, and I want to share how we can learn from her and all the things she loved to make the world a better place even in her absence. Here are five ways I need you to keep her legacy alive for me and for the rest of our family:

  1. Send someone you love a birthday card. Many of you knew that would be first on my list, didn’t you? In our family, she is famous for sending birthday cards. Let’s honor her by keeping Hallmark in business and sending a card to someone we love. Take time to celebrate friends and family members in your life on their special day.
  2. Expect extra. Extra ketchup for your fries. Extra cherries in your Shirley Temple. Extra time to get out the door. It’s accurate to say Syble could be a little “extra,” herself, but here’s what I learned from that personality trait: she never thought she would run out of what she loved or needed. She had an abundance mindset instead of a scarcity mindset. She could get extra ketchup because there would always be more in the pantry. She could ask for extra cherries because waiters and waitresses were always happy to get them. We can learn from her by trusting that there will always be enough. Our loving, heavenly Father sees us and provides for our needs.
  3. Embrace your guilty pleasures. Do you love Days of Our Lives, leopard print, and calendars of hot guys as much as she did? Embrace it. Does something else make you as happy as those things made her? Go all in with that level of joy. Love it loudly and proudly. Don’t even pay attention to younger sisters or nieces or nephews who wish you would keep some of that passion a little quieter.
  4. Connect with others through what you love. Sarah talked about all the things Syble was a fan of. But did you hear what was at the heart of all that fandom? It was the people she loved. She cheered for certain teams and players because the people she loved cheered for them. She paid attention to what other people talked about and enjoyed, and she connected with them through their interests. Sometimes we would leave their house and Syble would text, “It was so great talking to you and Lee, like adults.” And what we had talked about was the Astros because she knew Lee was a fan. So notice what your favorite people enjoy, and become a fan with them.
  5. And finally, live with hope of heaven. As much as Syble loved her life and all the people in it and things that brought her joy, she also looked forward to heaven—to being reunited with family members she loved and lost like our Grandma Syble who she was named after. She placed her faith in Jesus at a young age, and loved reading her Bible, praying, and going to church. She was confident that heaven would bring joy and relief from the pain she felt over the last few months. She wasn’t afraid of death, and you don’t have to be either. Learn from her example of childlike faith, place your trust in Jesus, and look toward your future in heaven with the hope that she had.

Friends, I never thought for a minute that we would be facing a future without her in it. That she would miss our family’s birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, and so much more. That I would go more than a week without out a text from her or not get handwritten lists of birthday and Christmas gift ideas this December.

So I’m looking to you—to those who knew her and loved her. We now have to be more like her so that the light of her life is never lost. So my boys and my nieces won’t forget the very best qualities she had. Being Syble’s sister changed us in too many ways to count, and knowing her can change you too. Thank you for being here with us today to celebrate the light she was, and please continue to be that light in her absence.

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