Accepting The Death Of A Sister

You Will Always Be My Sister And I Will Always Love You, Even When You Have To Leave Us

Coming to terms with my sister's terminal illness.

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That ever-so-silent, unnerving beep will never leave my head. Tears from those days soon became tattooed to my face. Time after time, the tears became more effusive and I was slowly dwindling. But I wasn't the one who was actually dwindling, it was you. Your little screwed up body, quickly then all at once, broke into pieces. This was the first time, but definitely not the last.

It was the day before Christmas Eve. Your 11-month old body was working up to what we thought was its full potential, even with your feeding tube and oxygen. Mommy and I were the only ones awake. The dreams of Santa coming the next night soon turned into nightmares when your jolly red face turned purple. Your hands we would use to help you unwrap gifts with became empty and lifeless. And the heart that held your life together stopped for a break.

We all knew this day was coming, but we didn't think so soon.

We knew your little body was going to have to fight, but for how long? We wanted to keep you here forever, regardless of what the doctors had to say. No one should have to bury a child. We promised each other and you that you would teach others, regardless of your inability to talk or see. We promised that you would change the world, without the ability to think.

But, how could a girl with only half a brain change the world?

I heard the beeping four more times in my life. After that, the sound didn't seem so abrupt. Now, I hear it every day. I remember each time vividly. The second was strange because we were expecting it. Three years since, your body was breaking down, your breaths becoming further and further apart. There it was again, that beeping noise. We immediately stopped it, shoving air down your throat. It was over, and you were alive once again.

The other times happened many years later, you were nine. You took a turn for the worse and your body came to a halt. You had a severe intestinal blockage and you were rushed into surgery. Your body began to break down even quicker than before - you were septic. The third time was the night after your surgery. You couldn't do it — life was getting too hard. You were on a ventilator for two weeks after that.

The fourth was a couple of days later. We wanted you off the ventilator, but you were not ready. We took the ventilator away from you, and the beeping noise began again. I watched as your chest sank deep and your eyes rolled behind your head. You were the one actually dying, but we looked as if we were the dead ones.

Only Mommy and your doctors were there for the fifth time. Maybe you had a method behind this — did you want to die? Did you want to stop all of this? But, as that treacherous beeping noise began, they stopped it. This time with surgery and another tube. You now had six tubes in your 27-pound body. How is that possible? When is the end to this madness? The sixth tube made me realize something: I was the one who wanted you to live, to fight, and to stay here with me. You never asked for this. You never asked for six tubes or life in the hospital. I was doing these things and pushing you to live when you couldn't.

From the time you were born, I wanted you here with me forever but soon learned this was only a dream.

Know that when you go, I will be hurt, but the pain I feel will be only minuscule compared to the pain you feel every day. I have become content with the inevitable. You will no longer have six tubes in your body or have doctors examining you every day. You will stay at home where you are happy with your family. You will be comfortable and loved every day.

Your breaths are now getting shorter and your skin is getting colder. So, when that final beep comes I won't stop it. I won't put me before you. You will not have to feel pain and you will not have to suffer. You are very tired. You've had enough, but I promise this won't be the end because there is no end. You will always be my sister and I will always love you. Now, we are at the bottom of the page, but it isn't the end of our story. The next page may appear blank and this story may have seemed to end, but look closely and continue reading for this story, not I nor you have an end.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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To The Sister About To Move Away, Girl, You've Got This

You may not physically be here right now, but you're always with our family.

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You were there on the day I was born, somehow sleeping soundly as our mom gave birth to me. I'll never forget the photograph of her presenting me to the world and you sitting beside her, holding up your newly-purchased beanie baby with pride as if being handed this toy was equal to the miracle of birth.

It was a crab, by the way, which somehow makes it funnier.

Growing up, you loved to trick me. You'd make me do chores for you and steal my favorite Barbies, but I think that's just part of being an older sister. I'd stick my tongue out at you and cry out the same phrase, "Mooooom, Sissy is being mean to me!" In fact, I yelled this phrase so often that it began to take on a musical quality.

You were mean at times, but you always had my back. You physically beat up other children that had wronged me, and you let me crawl into your bed so we could watch TV together and exchange stories. We'd often immerse ourselves in fantasy worlds where we were princesses and we rode unicorns side-by-side.

But we grew up, and our fantasy world evaporated like the muddy puddles we'd play in after stormy nights. One second it was there, and then, it was just gone. I remember having a conversation a few years back where we wondered if we had known the last time we played Barbies would, in fact, be our last.

When I was a seventh grader, you were a junior in high school. Our problems were very different back then, but that didn't stop us from talking endlessly about them. We were so similar. We bonded over cheerleading, cute boys, books and music. But even more than that, we bonded over our similar life views and questions about the universe. We both possessed an innate love for life yet we were both distrustful of society's guidelines.

Watching you enter new life phases enthralled me. I thought, Wow, that will be me someday. I danced around the house in each of your four prom dresses, my imagination taking me to a place much grander than a high school gymnasium. Through your stories, I romanticized the future and hoped that I would be as cool as you.

It was a little tough at times, though, always longing for a different part of life. When I entered junior high, all I wanted was to be in high school. When I entered high school, I decided college was much cooler because that's what you said. And you were certainly right about that one.

You were the only one I felt comfortable sharing my writing with, the only one I knew could read the meaning behind my sideways glances. We just got each other in every way.

And we still do. To this day, you are one of the people I love and trust most. I don't know what I am going to do without you by my side, as you've been right there for 20 years. But I'm so proud of you. Of the many things we would lay around and talk about throughout the years, one topic persisted: moving away. Moving used to be a pipe dream, something beautiful that lived in your mind but would never come to pass.

And then you took a chance. And now that dream is a reality.

I want you to know how much I admire you. You are so incredible and resilient. I've never met anyone so strong-minded and willing to fight for what she believes in. You would never compromise yourself or your values for another person, but you are generous with others and so kind-hearted.

You are curious about the world and have a desire to learn about life and the richness it has to offer. That is a special quality that cannot be learned. You are beautiful in every way and are truly a blessing to have as a sister.

And it is from these very qualities and so many others that I know you will do great on your own. Sure, it's super tough at first; nobody said it would be easy. But if anyone can do it, then that person is certainly you.

I will always cherish our moments together, and you can always count on me to be there on the sidelines cheering you on, no matter where your adventure takes you.

Much love,

Your Little Sis

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