Matthew Lickona 5 p.m., Dec. 4
If you've never gotten one, this won't make sense. If you have, you will understand the impact of getting five within four years. I'm not sure I could handle another anytime soon. I call them “death calls.” “There's been an accident.” “You need to pull over.” “We lost Rose.” “I don't know how to tell you this.” “Susan died!”
The last call came from my brother Tim and I can still hear his words in my head. My little sister died of an accident at 44-years-old and that one brought me to my knees-both in prayer and weakness. These are calls that change your life, stop the clock and create that before and after affect. They change everything forever.
He told me to pull over, but before I could he said words that are etched into my mind forever, “Susan is dead.” I can still see the place off of Interstate 8 where I veered off the road when I realized what he said. I sat there so long that the highway patrol stopped and ticketed me for parking where I wasn't supposed to. That ticket cost me $51.50 and that made perfect sense. 5150-Cop talk for crazy.
The worst ones are from strangers. Police officers and medical personnel must make these so many times that their words seem overused. The medical staff in Medina, Ohio, tried to put it to me gently but eventually the words came “we tried everything we could but we lost her.”
Granted, I went many, many years without so much as a scare. When my grandparents passed, it seemed normal and followed a gradual procession of symptoms and aging. My 95-year-old grandmother had been telling me she was ready to be with my grandfather for years.
It's those younger ones that come from nowhere that leave everybody stunned. No one knows what to say or do because the loss is so sudden. Then, the impact starts to unfold right about the time of the funeral.
Seeing a parent bury a child is the most humbling thing I've ever witnessed. There are no words of comfort and nothing to ease that pain. All you can do is bring your energy and hope it lifts them, even minutely.
Walking my nephew up to his mother's casket was the hardest thing I have ever done. As his knees buckled, I could barely hold him up. I got him to a chair right as my strength was giving out. To the right, I saw my Mother in shock being held by my older sister Cindy. To the left, my Father leaned against a piano with a look of grief on his face that I hope to never see again.
Where, where, where to get the strength? Words failed me. Smiles were useless. We all just walked away in shock and grief until we could meet again hopefully under better circumstances.
It's been 18 months since we lost Susan. I think it's time to smile again. We were not gypped at the loss. We were blessed to have her for 44 years. Nothing will ever replace the loss of a sister. You can't understand the closeness unless you have experienced it.
Now, I am an alcoholic that can barely cope. I wonder every day if maybe a glass of wine could ease this pain. My allies in AA say it won't. I still wonder if for some of us life is too painful to endure. Maybe, the universe left some of us too sensitive to absorb life's pain and stay sane. I am sane today but that is as ephemeral as my idea of it.
I miss my little sister every day. I miss her laugh. I miss her 20+ calls a day even when I asked her to ease up. I miss knowing that she had my back no matter what. I miss our history.
Little Susan, I just miss the hell out of you.
With love, Diva