Wednesday, December 9, 2009

BLOG: Torn

Four years ago, on Dec. 14, 2005, my little sister died. She was 24. She contracted encephalitis, an infection that causes the brain to swell. After being mis-diagnosed several times as having a tension headache, she was finally admitted to the hospital.

By this time, she was having these little seizures that forced them to admit her. Her brain had swollen to a point that her body was seizing. They were more like little monsters creeping up every hour or two and completely taking over her body.

To watch her disappear into her own body as if falling back into a hole for a moment--those moments were like big, scary monsters to me. Because for me, I just wanted to grab her hand and pull her up out of the hole. But, she'd disappear for a few minutes, completely out of my grasp.

She had her first seizure on Thanksgiving day, and three weeks later, she died. I was three months pregnant and living in North Carolina when the tragedy that was December 2005 unfolded. I was sick. Very sick. Too sick to travel, and so I called her every day, multiple times a day.

But one day, she couldn't speak. I was told that the little monsters were happening more frequently and they had been forced to induce a coma through medication. Damn drugs. Damn little monsters. Damn the last time I ever spoke to her.

I said I love you. Those were my last words, and I told her I would see her for Christmas. Instead, I showed up on Dec. 13 and walked into a gray hospital room where she lay, swollen from head to toe, in a hospital bed. The next day, she slipped away, out of my grasp forever.

So, here I am four years later. She never did get to meet my third or fourth child. And that stings. But what stings with a white-hot intensity is my absence during the last few weeks. That has become my monster, and I can't seem to get him off of my back.

At just after 9 a.m. this morning, I walked into my boss's office and completely melted. I couldn't turn off the tears or the pain. I quietly sobbed and told her that I was having a rough morning.

I had been fine all week. Until hubby mentioned something to me last night. "I want to take you away for the weekend," he said. Our wedding anniversary happens to be the day after my sister died, on Dec. 15.

He had to work on Dec. 15, and so he made plans to go away Sunday and spend all day Monday in Orlando. We have these two Disney tickets that are about to expire, and he thought we could get away and have some fun.

But, that's my sister's day, I thought. I can't have fun on that day. I'm too riddled with guilt for not being by her side in the last few weeks. I feel like I let her down. I thought I had more time. I thought, as the nurses told me, the coma would wear off once the drugs did. I thought that once I was well enough, I'd come back to Florida and help take care of her. I thought ...

There you have it. A peak into my mind when I think about those last few weeks. And so now, I'm sitting here, torn. Disney world on my sister's day? I can't. I just can't.

A friend of mine told me to go; to let my hubby take care of me. Another one told me to celebrate her life. And another one told me that she'd want me to have fun. But, you see, there's this monster on my back. And I can't seem to shake him.

I just don't know what to do.


  1. Always do what will put a smile on your face- whether its enjoying the weekend at Disney, or just hiding out for thr day cuddled up with hubby. Just think thoughts of your sister that will make you smile, then shed a few tears, take a deep breath, and enjoy the sun on your face. I know its easier said than done, but you deserve it and your sister is wishing that for you as we speak.

  2. Your sister DID meet your children. She knew your children before YOU knew them. Take peace in knowing she patiently waits to be with you again.

  3. what a powerful story. i applaud you for having the courage to tell it. now go and have the fun your sister would love for you to have and release the guilt forever.

  4. These comments have really ministered to my heart. I just re-read them and three words stuck out to me: Sun, peace and love.

    Thank you for those words. They mean more than you can know.

  5. I was with you in that hospital room the night before she died. I felt her spirit, and she knew you were there. Your baby sister thought the world of you, and she wouldn't want you to feel anything close to guilt. She would want you to truly *live* your life and celebrate hers. *hugs*

  6. Incredibly touching story. Thank you for sharing it.