This has been one of the hardest couple of days in about 15 years. My sweet albeit schizophrenic cousin died a few days ago. It was a shock to our family in its entirety. We hadn’t expected it at all. Just Sunday we all saw each other in one of the most elegant forums – The Sand Castle, celebrating another favorite cousin Kareem’s wedding.
Suzanna laughed and danced and ate and took turns speaking to all of us. I remember watching her dance with my sister. They were really boogieing all over the dance floor and I noted this look of concentration upon her face. And I swear I thought to myself, she looks like she’s so determined to have the best time on this night but that passing thought did just that and passed in less than two seconds. And the night went on. Favorably. For all of us. Monday passed without incident. The next day I was happily chilling on the couch with my sailor in the middle of the afternoon. We had just had breakfast and I was basking in my severe cleverness for I had not only taken Monday off to recover from the wedding but Tuesday as well.
Early afternoon my hubby’s cell rang and he looked at it in puzzlement stating “it’s your sister” before picking up and pressing the phone to his ear. I studied his face with my standard look of annoyance whenever my peace was interrupted. His face when from blank to some other look I couldn’t predict and then he handed me the phone and uttered two words “prepare yourself.” Sparing him a quizzical look I reached for the phone.
“Hey Manda, what are you up to?” My sister’s voice asked.
“Nothing, just chilling over here. What’s up?” I asked anxious to find out what all of the drama was all about. I was sure she would just ask us to do something now that my aunt, cousin and two other family members were staying by my parents. They had come across the ocean from The Empire just for the wedding.
I can’t remember the conversation word for word, just like I can’t remember the conversation 15 years ago when Roger died. But I know she said Sue died. And the way she died was that she had most likely committed suicide by jumping off of a building. A pain spread across my heart and my hand clapped across my mouth to keep the horror from escaping my voice box. No. It couldn’t be true. We just spent the evening with her not just two days ago. What could have happened between then and now to make her want to end her life? But just as the question came so did an understanding.
Sue suffered from schizophrenia. It was not an easy disease by any means. Yes people get by but with Sue, things were much more difficult. Her obstacles one could argue were self inflicted and abundant. She had a very secular religion/church that she was a part of. She was not open to help groups, counseling or even occupying her time with a part time job. Her personality was strange, inflexible. She was obsessed with KJ, whom we all thought she looked far better than though she couldn’t see what we saw. Wouldn’t it be so ironic that on that wedding reception night she looked her most beautiful. She lost weight, picked a beautiful dress, allowed her hair to grow naturally, dyed it even and applied her makeup carefully. When I saw Sue that night I thought to myself wow, the girl really looks great. She didn’t need a makeover from me. She had it going on.
Now that the wake is over, the funeral is over, there are no tasks to keep me from my grief. I can reflect on everything. The memories come to me in flashes, Sue and the rest of us playing in the projects, Sue looking so small and frail in her coffin bed, Sue wrinkling her nose, pointing her finger in a way that I attributed to the medication, turning her head slightly to the left and giggling like a school girl during our cousin’s lunch.
I’m not a girl who regrets much. I accept my limitations. I have many. With Sue I wasn’t there for her as much as I could have been. I was busy with this, that and the other thing. I don’t have too many regrets about that. I am who I am. But I can’t lie. I have some. I do wish I had reached out to her more. I wish I was more patient with her. I wish I was more interested in what she found interesting. One of my motto’s is fake it til’ you make it. Why couldn’t I prioritize that with her? Because as usual I guess I thought I had time to make it up to her. But I didn’t. These regrets will not tear me apart but it will take me awhile to get past them and move forward. What helps the most? I’ll tell you honestly. My sister Row. Row was kind to her, interested, spoke with her, put the effort to reach her and was the hub for the rest of us. We found out the essentials about Sue’s life from Row in-between our cousin’s lunches.
And because of their bond, their relationship, I know Row will be hurting a great deal. I have my hubby and my daughter to help me, support me when I’m sad or upset. They are here to listen, to cheer me up with a hug, a smile. I wish my sister had someone special to help her through. I will try to do what I can to cheer her up and be there for my aunt and uncle. I also have plans to be more available to my other aunt Lazina now that her son and his family will be moving out.
I am me. I don’t look to become my sister. I can appreciate her gifts without regretting that I cannot replicate them. But what I can do is more so I have less to regret.