These are letters that have been written to my 15-year-old sister. She committed suicide on January 2nd of 2008. She left nothing but questions and the details that started to unfold after her death are a bit fuzzy and hard to understand. I am sharing them here because I want a place to save them, as they have previously been posted on social media. Surprisingly, I only wrote three. Her death is hard to discuss because it makes people uncomfortable and as a family we don’t talk about her much either. It still stings and always will.
January 3, 2008
It’s 4:30 in the morning and I cannot sleep. I suppose that is normal given the circumstances. I have so much to say to you and ask you; it’s hard to know where to begin.
I feel like there is a lot that I never told you before and in retrospect I wish I had. I have known you since you were 4 years old and even though we are sisters through marriage, you are my sister nontheless and I love you just as I do Jamie. Maybe I never really showed it or said it enough but it’s true. I always felt bad because right around the time that Jamie was really starting to get to know you; you know the age where you were beginning to blossom and and we could actually have conversations with you; well just when that started happening, I moved to Grand Rapids. I feel cheated out of time spent with you.
I tried to be as much of a big sister to you as I could. You and Jamie were closer though and I was okay with that because at least I knew you were talking to someone. I will never understand what you did or why you did it. There are so many unanswered questions that will remain that way. I keep thinking that I must have missed something. I checked your myspace profile frequently just to make sure you were staying out of trouble and I saw that you’ve been sad and I read your headline, and while I was concerned, it seemed to be typical teenage girl angst. Why didn’t I say something?
I didn’t see this coming at all. When I saw you on Christmas Eve(which looking back now, thank God Jamie did lose her job and could make it) you were a little withdrawn but that was typical of you, espeically being around all adults. But what is strange is you seemed excited about some things. Like the ring you got for Christmas, Tanis’s pictures, you were showing us how the keyboard works. Everything seemed normal. I wish you could have said something to someone….anyone. I never thought I could feel this much pain. Over the past 5 years, there’s been a lot of tragedy in the family but nothing compares to this.
You took away your pain and left us in so much more. My heart aches; my whole body and being aches. Where are you now? What are you doing? Did it hurt? One thing that I would like to make sure of is that you watch over your mother. She lives and breathes for you and now that you’ve taken that away from her, we don’t know what will happen.
I was so excited for you to be an aunt. You still will be, just in a different form. I miss you more than words can explain. Forgive me for being mad at you right now though…I cannot help but feel some anger towards what you did. I think I am more hurt by the fact that you did not even realize how many people love you and are affected by your death.
I can only hope that you feel pain no longer and that you are peaceful. Please remember to check in on us from time to time.
I love you more than you could ever know.
Your big sister,
February 3, 2008
It’s been over a month now since that horrible day. I still cannot believe that you are gone. A month usually seems like such a short amount of time but in this case it feels like we’ve already had to live too long without you in our lives.
I dream of you all the time but they aren’t the dreams I want to have. Jason tells me it’s too soon for you to come to me in my dreams but I wish you would anyways. The only thing I dream of right now is your death and I wake up crying every time.
Part of me is still mad. I am not really sure who to be mad at anymore though. Sometimes it’s you, sometimes it’s God, sometimes my father, myself or just anyone. None of this is fair and I know how childish that sounds but it’s true. I mean what the hell was God thinking when he took you from us? Didn’t he know you had plans and a life to live yet? And then my thoughts go back to what the hell were you thinking when you did this to all of us??? How could you? I read an essay that you wrote just a little over a month before you killed yourself and you had goals. You wanted something from life and wanted to make a difference and instead you hung yourself from your parents basement. I don’t understand any of it and I will never have my questions answered and that makes everything so much more difficult. You left us all with a piece of our hearts missing. I know mine will never truly be whole again.
Ugghh! It’s all so frustrating and none of it makes any sense. I keep trying to put pieces together as if it were a jigsaw puzzle but nothing fits quite right. I know that you are at peace now but unfortunately, we are not and I am not really sure if we ever will come to terms with your death. It’s too hard.
The tears don’t flow quite as often anymore but the hurt still remains. Everytime I look at your face I reach out to touch it as if it were really you. I miss you. I am so scared that I will start losing pieces of you in my memory. Please don’t let that happen. I love you. I hope you know that.
January 2, 2013
5 years ago my world was turned upside down. 5 years ago you left us in such a hurry that you didn’t even say goodbye.
The grief consumed us whole in a flash flood of tears. I can still recall every detail about when I found out that you had died. I couldn’t believe it was true. Surely, it was a mistake and someone would realize it. But no one called to say it was a mistake. No one could save us from the pain of our hearts breaking.
People said that time would make it better. I wasn’t sure how it would be possible for it to ever be better and maybe better is not the right word, easier and less painful perhaps. That first year was especially difficult. Tanis was born shortly after you died and I struggled with becoming a new mom and dealing with the hurt of you taking your own life. I would find myself crying over anything that brought me joy, like a sunny day, because it didn’t seem fair that you weren’t around to feel the joy of daily life anymore.
But as people did say, time helped. Eventually I started to heal. Though, I mourn for you knowing that I missed out on getting to know an amazing person. I mourn for the 20-year-old woman that should be here today. I think about what you would look like. I see the pictures of your friends and it seems cruel that they are getting older, while you are forever frozen at 15. We have all learned to cope with your death in our own ways. Our hearts may have broken but when we healed our hearts grew bigger, though still scarred.
I wish you could have met your niece and nephew. You would have absolutely adored them both. They are pretty amazing kids. Tanis is a spitfire and hilarious. Jacobi is more laid back and always on the move. You would have enjoyed watching them grow.
One of the hardest parts about your death is suicide is a dirty word in our society. People don’t want to talk about it; maybe because they are afraid. It can be frustrating because others don’t want to hear about it. But for those of us that have lost someone to suicide, we need to talk about it and we want to remember the person we loved so dearly without the stigma.
Oh, Ana. There is so much I could say to you and wish that I did say when you were still alive. You were such a sweet girl and so loving. I wish I could have shown you the amazing person you were before it was too late. You are forever in our hearts, Ana. I love you and miss you.