Monday, January 21, 2008

I Can't be Funny Today

I'm trying to write a post about my sister and for the life of me I can't.

How come I can't physically write about her life and death when I have absolutely no trouble talking about both? I wanted to write about her life, tell her story and give her memory the opportunity to teach others what her struggles have taught me.

I've tried and I can't. There's to much to tell.

I spent all of middle school, high school, and part of college taking care of her with my parents.
I was angry. Angry that she was sick, angry that my siblings lived in different states and couldn't help, angry that my parents health was failing because they ignored themselves to take care of us. Angry that diabetes played a part in it all.

There's volumes to write and I just can't tonight.

In a Cliff Note version that in no way gives her life the justice it deserves:

My sister was funny, difficult, demanding and wanted so much to love and be loved,
that she could strangle you with her efforts.

A diabetic since 12, she coveted sugar in any form.

She worshiped The Beatles and Barry Manilow
She made me listen to The White Album and I loved it.
"I Made It Through The Rain" became her anthem.

She was Manic Depressive
Going into a cleaning frenzy at 2 a.m. with a Hoover and bottle of red wine
I was in 2nd grade and wanted to sleep. I called her a "clean freak"
And reminded her that I had to get for school the next day
I couldn't wait for my parents to get home from vacation.

The middle child of six -
A Hippy
She loved nature
Especially the beach
She would take me there and show me all the wonders of the shore that God had made
In those moments on gray sand and huge surf, I loved her very much.

She taught me how to ride my bike without training wheels
Running beside me and holding me study
Letting go at just the right moment
Still by my side
Cheering me on.

Debbie had a penchant for beer and Black Russians
She'd go missing for a few days and saunter in during breakfast
My parents were angry, yet happy to know that she was alive.
I went off to school and tried to forget the panic of the past few days
And kept what happened to myself.
She lost her job.
Finally, she became a Friend and advocate of Bill W.
When she was in rehab, my brother came home from college
We were wrestling on her bed.
I smelled alcohol and we lifted up the mattress
A broken bottle of rum rested in the springs.
I was in 6th Grade.

Soon after she joined AA, her spiritual self started to rise...
Bt her health went from bad to worse.
Everything did.

When I was a Senior in High School
My parents finally took a vacation -
It was my mothers Ice Capade's reunion.
Debbie had 8 years of sobriety under her belt
She & I were the only ones home
Sobriety ended the afternoon I got of the bus.
The Dr. had given her bad news and she had two bottles of rum delivered.
She was crazy drunk and I had her physically removed from my house and placed in detox.
Neighbors peeked out their windows as she screamed bloody murder.
I went to school everyday and applied and won a Lions Club Scholarship that week.
I would not let my siblings call my parents -
They needed a break.

She got sober again, but her health continued to decline.

In fits of rage she would scream at my parents from the top of the stairs
When we fought, she'd tell me to take a good look, because my life would surely end like hers.
"You'll be dead before your 40," she'd tell me with a smile
In those moments I can honestly say I hated her...
For making my parents cry.

AND secretly fearing her prediction for my future would come true.
"I'll dance on your grave," I said in anger and to hurt.

Her words and my own said in anger paralyzed me for years.

Tomorrow, she will have been dead 17 years.
She was 34 on the day she died, January 22nd, 1991.

Diabetic complications are what killed her.

Heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, and lungs that had filled up with so much fluid, that she was drowning from with in.

I spent most of my 20's convincing myself that her death hadn't affected me, and the majority of my thirties admitting that it had.

Our last conversation occurred at 2 a.m. 18 hours before she died. Her lungs were filling up with fluid and if they didn't put a four-inch tube in her lungs, she could die. And if they did, she could die.

She looked at me in the eye and said:"It's not that I'm not ready to go, I am....It's the leaving that's hard." We held each other tight not wanting to let go. The rest of our conversation is between her and I.

Her words haunt me to this day.

Debbie, I miss you, I love you, and I wish your life had been different.

I know that there's an ocean in the sky just for you and Daddy, and I hope every day in heaven is a million times better then your best day in Jersey.

My life is good because of what you taught me, and for that I will always be grateful.
I Love You and miss you - Kelly


Cara said...

God bless you. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Scott K. Johnson said...

Very powerful post Kelly. Thank you for sharing with us.

Bernard said...

Kelly thanks for telling us about your sister.

k2 said...

Thanks Guys -
It didn't turn out like I thought it would. To much to explain in a post.
She had a tough life and suffered so much.

Back to the normal posts for now.
Kelly K

Caro said...

I'm echoing Scott, this is a very powerful post and it's certainly given me pause for thought.

Thank you for sharing.