My big sister was 29 years old when she died. I was in my first semester of college. Her favorite thing in the world was her little boy, and music came in a close second place. Savannah was my role model for my entire childhood. She was my protector. Our mom would joke saying that I was Savannah's baby doll and only Savannah knew how to take care of me.
Savannah suffered from medical issues, as well as addiction, which ultimately led to her death on Thanksgiving night in 2017.
It is safe to say I really do not care for Thanksgiving anymore. Savannah was a Type 1 diabetic who was in and out of the hospital since she was 7 years old. Doctors put her on many prescriptions, such as painkillers and beyond. Savannah was used to taking medication to stop her pain, suffering, confusion, and the discomfort that was with her at all times. When the opportunity to get cheap opioids arose, it was no wonder she found it easier — no doctor visits and no huge medical bills. I do not validate that what my sister did was correct by any means, I just know opioids were the drug she was addicted to.
Coming back to school after the funeral and darkness, I did not know what to expect.
I did not know how to tell people. I did not know if people even wanted to listen to what had happened over the Thanksgiving break. It was like I was holding an awkward secret, or I had a hidden identity, "the girl with the dead sister." When I did happen to bring it up, two things would either happen: I would break down in tears and not be able to continue with what I rehearsed saying while walking on the way, or I would say, "My sister died" really quickly, and the person would just stare at me like I was about to vomit in their lap.
I felt alone and grieving was a new experience for me. I would just cry and call my mom.
I felt that people did not actually care, but checked in on me because of the social obligation to treat the girl with the dead sister with a little bit more tenderness. I am a little more tender than before Savannah dying. I was so mad at my friends because they were trying to comfort me, but every word they ever spoke made me so mad at them. I did not know why, so I asked my mom. My mom once told me, "You are dealing with life issues and loss that adults do not truly experience until their forties, and you are 18 years old."
I think about that conversation a lot.
The trauma of getting the phone call from my devastated mother is still fresh if I think about it hard enough. I needed someone to talk to. I had so many thoughts and wanted to talk and not get that damn puppy-dog face when I talk about my sadness. Not many people know what is going through my mind. Hell, I do not know the majority of the time.
This is when I turned to therapy.
I started going to therapy using my campus's counseling and psychological services. I still go, twice a month. It is an amazing experience for me. We talk about grief, relationships, communication, anxiety, and more. I recommend that if you are curious, go to a counseling or therapy session and see what it is like. Yeah, scheduling may be a hassle, but totally worth it. Please check out what your campus offers, or talk to your healthcare provider (Yikes — I know it sounds scary, but the scariest part is making the appointment, I promise).
I do not know if a higher power exists. However, I know the universe knew I could handle losing my big sister. Savannah knew I would be OK. She knew I could be strong. When I look at my nephew or the number of photos in my mom's house, I know Savannah is not really gone — she lives through us. Savannah is not physically with us, but I refuse to let her die.