Dear Sister – Year 1

Hey Sis,

            Today is that day that I’ve been dreading for a year, which I can’t believe has gone by so fast already. I wrote to you in response to when you left us, so I figured today would be the best time to write again, just to let out what I’m feeling, a “release,” as I called it. I haven’t decided whether or not to write this out to the public, let someone hear it, or to just post it on the socials, because it really is between just you and I, but knowing you, you were all about how I need to put myself out there more, so I’ll probably end up doing the latter. Either way, it needs to come out in the best form that I know how to express myself in—my writing. So here goes; these were the words I couldn’t say at your celebration.

            Because what were we celebrating? Your life, which I can’t even remember, or of which I resent myself for never being a part of due to my behaviors? Or am I just being selfish in those thoughts, living in self-pity and thinking only of myself when it’s really about all others and their grief that I should be focused on? Your kids sat there with their friends for support, our parents sat with their respective siblings, and there I stood up front with Jared, still feeling alone due to my own lack of communication with him which you had always told me to build. I should have listened, because I didn’t want to feel so alone in a room full of 100 people who loved and cared for you so much. I didn’t want to stand there and cry as our father broke down at the table in front of me. I didn’t want to hold a brave face as I stood at the podium and released my own love that I had for you to the room. It was the most difficult, and vulnerable, moment of my life. And I’ve stood naked in a prison shower, so that’s saying a lot.

            Humor aside (if we can call it that), there have been moments throughout these months where all I could think about was you. The memories are like shadows that one sees at the corner of their eye, but when directly looked at, they realize that there’s nothing there. I know they exist. I know they don’t just disappear, but I wish they were stronger. I wish I could see you clearly when I closed my eyes. I wish that it were like those old movies that Mom still owns, with us dancing to Michael Jackson or with us building “gingerbread” houses out of graham crackers during Christmas. Yours were always better looking in the videos. You were always the artsy one. Jared was the one who would question anything and everything in order to gain knowledge. I was the deep thinker who could always turn a mountain into a molehill. Put together, we were a brilliant trio. Now you’re gone, and when I close my eyes all I can see is that final day.

            Mom called me, you know, frantically telling me to get to the hospital. I rushed there, calling my sponsor, girlfriend at the time, and a best friend along the way. They all told me to pray, but to have no expectations. I couldn’t help it; I told myself that you were going to be fine, although your heart had already stopped two times. I told myself that I would get there and you would be laughing your contagious laugh. By the time I got there though, your heart went for a third, and you lay there surrounded by doctors, Mom, your husband, and Jai. I paced in the hallway, not knowing what to think or do. As I entered the room, Mom told me to hold your hand and talk to you. She told me to say goodbye just in case. Not a tear came from her eyes—you would have been proud of her.

            Mine were a different story. I couldn’t contain myself: I pled for you to wake up and say, “just kidding!”, for you to grab a hold of my hand as I held yours, for your heart to beat a regular beat, for you to gag on that damn tube they had shoved down your throat, for you to rise and get dressed and come home with us because you know how much I hate hospitals. None of it happened as it was supposed to, because your heart gave again, and I needed to step out. I called Dad, telling him you may not make it and that I needed him there. I told him that I couldn’t go through this standing on Mom’s strength alone; they needed to get over their differences and come together like it were some awkward and twisted holiday. Of course, me being me, I called my boss to make sure he knew I wouldn’t be making it to work today, because for some reason that’s what was important to me. Was I reaching for help any and everywhere besides upwards? Absolutely, but my HP grabbed my hand once again as I walked into the room and watched as your heart gave one last time. The doctors turned and told us the news. You had left us. That day, there would be no happy ending. Things did not go as they were supposed to. I’ve been crying inside ever since.

            I don’t need to go over the specific details of what happened after, or has happened since, because I know you’ve been with me every step of the way. You’ve seen me as I rose through the occasion, only to fall months down the line in a collapse that almost landed me within your same line of fate. You watched as I lay in the hospital bed, then the hotel bed, begging my HP to just take me so that I couldn’t take another drink. I know it was you who talked him out of it, because here I sit, writing to you healthy and happy, thinking only of the good days to come. I realize that I don’t need to close my eyes to see you, because for now, every memory I hold of you is negative and brings along those likewise emotions. Instead, I can look around the world and see you in the unexpected places. I see you in the homeless man on the corner, remembering how you told me that you liked to keep blankets and snacks in the trunk of your car so that if you saw a group, you could help them out with whatever you had. I see you when I see or play a piano, knowing that I gained the love of learning it during childhood when you passed me down your little keyboard. I see you when I lift weights, always remembering how you talked about how much I could eat and how Jahai was the same way, and just as picky. I see you when I cook, knowing we both learned that love from our mother, even though you were always 100x better then I will ever be at it. I see you in your children, Jai just as sassy and Hai just as artistic. I even see you in Jared and I, in our ability to remain every part of our big sister. We held on to your qualities when you left our trio, making us brilliant in the best of ways, and I never plan on letting them go.

I do not plan to hold these resentments that I have for myself for any selfish feelings or for the memories that I cannot I remember. I still hold myself accountable for how I know you would feel about that. Some days are better than others, and some days I am just numb to the feelings. My secret is to just keep persevering. I need to keep going in life. My time is not done here yet. All of those feelings of “it should have been me” are slowly fading, and I know that all things have happened just as they were supposed to. I am not alone. I am not alone. I am not alone….

We planted a tree in Elk Grove Park in your memory, and most of the family spread your ashes around it. I kept mine.. Maybe next year I’ll write about what I ended up doing with them.

I love you Kali. Until I write again next year…

PS – I know you’ve been watching what’s been going on in the world, and I’m sorry that you’ve been missing out. I know you would love it.

Author: Ryan S.

Born and raised in Elk Grove, CA, I've battled with various addictions throughout my entire life. I've discovered that through writing about my experiences and struggles, along with the other various forms of writing that I do, it gives my addictions, traumas, and worries of the future a little less power within my thoughts. This, to me, is therapy, and a route toward recovery through a little hindsight, which brings me to a happy medium with my struggle within my discovery of self.

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