I haven't told anyone that my sister died last Thursday morning. Until now. Well, I did tell my husband as soon as I got the email from another family member. But then I went on with my day hardly giving it another thought.
Before you think that I am a heartless person, let me say that I don't feel sad or a loss because she and I never had a normal relationship. When she was four, she was diagnosed with a mental illness; some phrase with the word "paranoid" in it. It was scary for me to hear it. I lost her then.
I became her reluctant protector from all the mean kids in the school yard. No matter how much I tried to help her, she remained locked in her own world. And she refused to talk.
The OCD tendencies used to drive me crazy...no pun intended. Every time she would leave a room, she had to touch every thing at least once...and come back to do it all over again if she felt it was insufficient.
In her teen years when she would threatened to bomb our home, I became more estranged from the whole family. They were emotionally unable to cope with so many children, with their own particular problems.
Susan finally left home with no forwarding address. She didn't want anyone to know where she had moved. Fearing the government, she never got a social security number, relying on menial jobs that paid cash. I think she led a life like a rolling stone....never in one place for long.
Last year when I was in Maryland for a funeral (for one of my sister's...I have six), I saw her. I had heard that she was sick with colon cancer, but she still looked the same. We talked for a while and then agreed to meet at the "after burial" supper at Phil's house.
However, that was the day of the big snow storm of 2010 and we had to leave before she got there and hurried on back to the hotel. She called me on a cell phone and since she is not techno savvy, she didn't know that I could see the number and use it to contact her from that point on. We spoke several times since then.
We never really knew each other. She was an enigma. As it turns out, she was quite popular in the small town where she lived. She was a hospice worker working tirelessly, I heard. Also a community activist and tree hugger. Boy, could we have gotten into some arguments.
So it seems that she made herself a family of friends that she could rely on. I am glad that she had a better life than I had imagined. She died peacefully surrounded by her friends.
May God rest her soul.