"Say what you have to say, and not what you ought."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lightning Can Strike Twice in the Same Place

This week I had every intention of writing about my recent motorcycle trip to Jackson Hole and Yellowstone.  That all changed when my sister called me late in the day on Tuesday.  As she soon as I heard her voice I knew something was wrong.  I'd only heard that particular tone in her voice once before.  And, just like when I'd heard it before, my body immediately knew something was wrong, almost before she uttered the words "Have you read Jason's email?" my insides were already turning to liquid, my heart started racing and I wanted to vomit.  I logged into my email as she told me the news.  "Jason's sister is dead.  She killed herself."  For the second time in my 42 years, the world seemed to stop spinning, and I felt like I was watching myself from a distance as my mind tried to wrap itself around something that it desperately wanted to keep from knowing.

Jason's email told me everything I didn't want to know.  He even included a news clip about the tragic way his sister had chosen to end her life.  There I sat at work, staring at my computer, dumfounded, without words.  How could this be happening?  Again?  To Jason?  It just isn't fair.  That's when my tears started, thinking of him and all that he'd already endured.  Not even two weeks before, my mom and I had been talking about Julie, as we often do.  I mentioned that one of the few things I hadn't yet forgiven Julie for was how her suicide affected Jason.  I'm just not okay with it.  He, among everyone in her life, was there for her no matter what.  He loved her, despite her maddening ways. From my perspective, she took advantage of his love, dismissing it, not understanding how rare such loyalty is. His love and loyalty never wavered, even in death.  It was Jason who spared Amy from having to find her sister dead.  Instead, he went, knowing full well what he'd find.  He stayed with her until the very end, waiting until the coroner took her away.  And now this.  Again.  

Still in shock, I called Jason. Actually, I called, got his voice mail, left a message, then he called back and left me a voice mail, which I listened to, and then called him back.  Even in the midst of such sadness and shock, Jason didn't miss the significance of me listening to his voice mail and returning his call.  "Well, I guess I know how to get you to listen to one of my voice mails now" was how he answered.  We laughed at the morbid irony. Julie's last phone call was to me, and she got my voice mail.  She left me a message.  As per my habit, and keeping with my instructions to send me a text if it's urgent and important, I deleted her message without ever listening to it.  To this day I don't know what she said. 

At least laughing about what it takes to get me to listen to a voice message broke the ice. But then I had to actually talk about what why I was calling. I'd like to say that I had all the right words and knew exactly how to respond to such a tragedy.  After all, I know exactly how it feels to lose your sister to suicide.  Instead, I swore.  Really, what else is there to do?  We both agreed my profane word was really the only thing to say in response to suicide.  

I've spent the last 48 hours thinking, wondering, remembering and reliving.  It's the emotional, physiological memory of such trauma that's the worst.  It's like when you have a burn and the thin top layer of skin has just started to heal, covering the burn.  You nurse the wound, being very tender with yourself, protecting your injured part, knowing how fragile it is.  Then, out of nowhere, the wound gets bumped and the thin, new skin gets torn off.  The pain is there all over again, not as bad as the original burn, but close.  

Today I watched Robin Roberts say goodbye on Good Morning America.  She'll be gone for an indeterminate amount of time recovering from a bone marrow transplant.  As she talked about her experience with cancer, and subsequently finding out that her cancer treatment had given her a rare disease requiring a bone marrow transplant she said, "Life provides losses and heartbreak for all of us.  But the greatest tragedy is to have the experience and miss the meaning." 'I am determined not to miss that meaning."  I stopped what I was doing when I heard her, amazed at her simple, yet profound wisdom and amazing optimism and courage. I'm not even close yet to knowing what sort of meaning any of us will gain from this latest tragedy. It's still too raw, too soon, but her words shifted my focus and gave me hope, which right now is enough.  


  1. I have no words, but .... I'm so sorry.

  2. The burn analogy is a powerful one. I'm so sorry for your losses.


Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. I appreciate your feedback.