I Didn’t Get It by Kelly Sousa

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I didn’t get it then. I was 13. A pre-teen who lived with my mother, step-father & sister Cindy a couple of months a year, due to being caught in the Custody battles between my Mother & real Dad. Cindy & I argued. She was 15. I was a little bratty sister who idolized her & would steal her cool clothes to wear them to school so I could feel cool too. We were best friends before we got torn apart by those custody battles. I idolized her. She was smart, pretty, funny-loved. I was always in trouble. The one who wanted acceptance like her. Cindy was my Mom’s favorite. My Mom didn’t accept me because I loved my Dad, & she hated him. Any time we got to spend together was precious. She’d hide my hamster on me. Kid stuff. We had fun together, until THAT day. The day I woke up lying next to my sister in her bed, & watched her eyes roll to the back of her head as she became unresponsive.

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I have nightmares to this day, & can’t sleep through the night. My sister was taken to the hospital & put in ICU for 13 days & nights in a brain dead coma because my parents argued over life support. Cindy had decided 2 weeks prior to end her pain by taking a few pills daily over a 2 week period & was now in organ failure. They hadn’t even waited to turn off life support before my mother moved me into her bedroom & started painting the walls. They weren’t going to be sleeping in there, in that room, that bed. Sure-just cover the walls, cover it all up! Cover the guilt & shame in a new shade of lavender. At 13, I watched my Dad get escorted out of the ICU waiting room & told he is “not allowed back or able to attend her funeral because my mother was a Paralegal & could have any fancy documents printed up that she needed to fuel the fire in the insane custody battle that tore my life apart. My Dad was destroyed. My life & childhood was destroyed. My childhood ended at 4:18pm on March 31, 1984, the day the hospital called to let us know Cindy was gone. Gone because she was depressed. Gone because I didn’t live with her full-time & it was my fault according to my mother.

I never told my mother she was sad. NOW she wanted me around because I was the replacement kid. The void-filler. I missed 2 days of school. They whispered about me in the halls. Now I was the center of attention. Suicide. No one talked about that. Kids were cruel. “Was your sister crazy?”, & when I stated “I would have done it if she hadn’t, people now paid attention to the replacement kid & to the goings on in my Mother’s house. People should listen to kids. My mother blamed my Dad, my Dad blamed himself, I blamed my step-father but you know what?-everyone is to blame! Suicide is the silent Cancer that eats away everything you thought you knew. Cindy had planned this & when she finally confided in me what she had done, it was too late to save her.The secret Cancer was destroying her organs inside. I can still hear the sound of her hospital room & the vent breathing for her. I work in the ER now & always tense up when I see that long tube being used on a patient who can’t breathe for themselves. There I see my idol, my childhood, my sister as her organs shut down. In my heart I know why she did it, but she didn’t really want to die. She just wanted to end her pain & sadness. That’s what it’s all about right?

Losing my best friend at 13, forced me to grow up real fast. Her death opened my eyes & taught me so many things I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. I can’t stand seeing anyone unhappy. What if they are sad & have no one to talk to? I never want anyone to feel the way Cindy did. Hopeless.There is help. Be the Voice for them when they feel they don’t have one. Give back. Healing is hard, but it happens. Speak out. Join support groups. Raise awareness for Suicide prevention by walking in Out of the Darkness Walks. There’s no better therapy than being around hundreds of other people who “get it”. They took their own life; don’t let them take yours too. I get it all NOW. 

14 Responses

  1. Jeff Chick
    | Reply

    As I was 14, and the brother of Cindy’s best friend, I never really understood any of it. I just wasn’t old enough to process what had happened. Looking back, I really can’t remember how I felt when this all went down. All I knew was that my sister was devastated, and someone who I had seen many times was just gone. It’s hard to believe it’s been 32 years since that happened. I don’t think anybody that hasn’t gone through something like that, can possibly relate to someone who has. The one thing I can say about you is, you have seemingly never allowed anything to get you down in your life. I have never seen a married couple that exudes happiness more than you and your husband. You seem to have so much in common, and are finding ways to have fun every single day. That is probably the biggest testament to your coping skills. You keep doing you, because you do it well. Love ya, kiddo.

    • Kelly Sousa
      | Reply

      Jeff,
      You are amazing for this. Not many people were ‘there’ to see what actually happened & to get support from those that were,means the world to me & truly keeps me going. Love you back!

  2. Someone who understands
    | Reply

    Thank you for being so confident enough to share your past, to protect the future. I’m sorry for all the unimaginable pain you went through as a child. I wish your life wasn’t forged around such darkness. Kelly, you are so strong and so brave. There’s a lot I still don’t feel ready to share with people. But I understand what it’s like to suffer in silence. Not exactly as your experiences. But very similar. I struggled for a long time before coming up for air to rebuild myself. I’m still trying to. But even through that hard time you still became such an amazing person and the light that shines from you, is making your sister so proud. You may have looked up to her, but it is your life that is worth others looking up to you.
    As I do.
    You exemplify what it means to be a great woman, a fun and loving wife, a caring friend, and most importantly a true leader for those who need it.
    -E

  3. Jennifer Lane
    | Reply

    I am so sorry for your loss, the loss of your sister and the loss of your family. Thank you for sharing the story of your hurt and encouraging others to reach out!

    • Kelly Sousa
      | Reply

      Thank you Jennifer. I truly appreciate the support!!

  4. Thom
    | Reply

    I am so very proud of my wife for telling her story. You are the strongest, most caring woman I have ever met and I am honored to be your husband!! I lLuh U with all my heart!! ♡♡♡

    • Kelly Sousa
      | Reply

      Thank you for letting me talk about it. It’s more important now than it ever was. Now it can help other people, and that helps me. Love you!

  5. Kathy
    | Reply

    I remember that day , when you found out , back then No one said anything but I wish I or you could say something, anything, now being older and trying myself twice , in my teen years, I know how scared, isolated , … It doesn’t matter now …what matters know is you and how you remember Her, your way her good and bad faults just like I would want my ones too. Xx kathy

  6. Tracy Morani
    | Reply

    I can remember the day she died like it was yesterday. Unfortunately I found out from a fellow worker of Buddy. I dropped to my knees as my best friend was gone. Kelly this is a great article. There was nothing you could have done so please do not blame yourself, Cindy would not want that. Love you! RIP Cindy ?

  7. Leslie
    | Reply

    Amazing! I’ve heard the story before (in short) but seeing it in black and white was amazing and gut wrenching at the same time. It brought a tear to my eyes!

  8. Kathy
    | Reply

    Through the darkness of your childhood and the loss of your beautiful sister, your light shines.
    Through the custody battles, selfish, cruel and torturess life you were forced to endure, your light shines. What an amazing person you are and what a testament you are to your sister and those you touch , by chance, never really knowing the difference you make in other people’s lives, like mine!

  9. Susan Meehan
    | Reply

    Never forgotten. Love you cousin.

  10. Linda Miola Furrier
    | Reply

    It still hurts, so many years later. Kelly … can’t even imagine how deep your scars run. Hugs. So many times over the years I think of Cindy, and wish I had known how much pain she was in. So many loved her, and would have offered her forms of escape or comfort … if we’d known? I often think she is with us, in her own way, watching over and guiding our lives. That belief comforts me, so I hope it’s true. XOXO Cousin

  11. Laurie Robertson
    | Reply

    Kelly I remember the day your sister died it was so sad and so hard for us all to deal with we so young and just couldn’t understand why im so proud of the work you do cindy would be too god bless you girl.

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