My sister Amanda…
It’s been just over two years now. Did you know when you shot yourself that you would take the whole family with you in one way or another?
Confidence in our perception of reality, hope for the future, peace in each day, and emotional and physical health, have all been stolen from your siblings. The old is gone, replaced by new, more fragile, burdened and anguished sisters.
That lovely optimism of youth and the belief that life is good and the future is bright has been undermined in your nieces and nephews. If beautiful, funny, talented Aunt Amanda could despair of life, what does the future hold for us? The old is gone, replaced by new, tentative and confused young people. Each embarking on life with skill and bravery, but with baggage that is heavier than it should have been.
The pleasure of a vibrant lush family tree has been lessened greatly for Mom and Dad. Their energy and laughter draining away. Their golden years, deeply tarnished by salty tears. The old is gone, replaced by defeated and tentative sketches of who they want to be. Valiantly moving forward but wondering what, if anything, they did to deserve this pain.
The roots and wings have been stripped from your child. First the wings, when his father left for greener pastures in this world. And then the roots when his mother left him behind in this world alone. The old is gone, replaced by a young person who, despite his valiant efforts to be strong, is navigating life by stars that cannot even be seen. The very life was stolen away from one of our sisters, whom I know you loved. Almost 2 years to the day of your suicide, she died. Not the same way you did; a heart attack in a woman not very old, the doctors said. In my soul, I know it was a broken heart. Over the last 2 years, she lost the things she valued most, starting with you, her best friend and trusted confidant.
We loved you so deeply! We miss you so much! You were our kind and gentle sister and friend, beautiful and funny aunt, the last baby born to our loving parents, the teacher and lover and partner-in-crime to your only child! Diligently, we are working through our grief, which seems to manifest itself in new ways as time goes by. They say that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” No; none of us are stronger as a result of losing you. We have built fortifications around our hearts; the older of us push through for the sake of the younger.
But, yes, we have learned to cherish each other more and lean into the time we have together. Because time is short and there are no guarantees in life. Some of us who are old enough to understand, are gentler and more engaged with the hurting and lonely people we encounter. In my mind, I want to change the world, to shout out to those thinking about following in your footsteps: “You are loved! People will miss you! You will change the lives of others you don’t even know are counting on you! Don’t believe the lies in your head!”
I ask, anew, “why?” It’s been over 2 years and I know, but I don’t know, the answer. My hope is that we will ALL see you again someday and the past will fade away into oblivion, with perfect love and forgiveness. Until then, we strive to be best we can be, the old stripped away with the new in its place.