List Lesson: 12 Step Program

Sister is back in the hospital. What follows is a loose interpretation of the weekly writing challenge; a list, of sorts, to deal with the pain I am feeling this morning.

Photo belongs to me.

‘My Sister.’ Photo belongs to me.

I don't feel empty
right now, I feel empty. 
Mom called me this morning. I heard her voice telling me you were going back to the hospital.
I was speechless. 
What happened to my heart? Something happened to my
heart.
It was expanding, it was imploding. I think it felt 
painful,
but I was feeling too overwhelmed by the black,
to notice.
Home-made movies
McDonald's runs at midnight
You paint my nails black
and leave one pink
These are the things we used to do
because these are the things
that best friends do.
You laugh
I laugh
You roll over, dying of laughter
I fall off of the bed, dying
of laughter
And so it is, 
for years
What can I do now?
Hospital beds
Wheelchairs
Needles
Your cries and screams
Dark room
I am here
You are there

You called me.
You said:
It will all be okay.
Wasn't I supposed to tell you that?
But you heard the tears in my voice,
that I was trying to hide.
I'm not good at hiding
the heart on my sleeve.
But I tell you:
I am sorry.
It will be okay.
I will come see you.
I love you.
Goodbye.

Then I sit on my couch and explode.
I see my tears fly up to the cieling and burst into
crytals
I see my heart through my skin, and then it
rips out of my chest
and lays on the floor
I feel like I am in a 12 step program
to deal with 
the pain of my sister's disease

Step 1: cry
Step 2: wipe away the tears and snot
Step 3: sit on edge of bed and contemplate suicide
Step 4: fall onto the floor and realize that even 
suicide wouldn't fix anything
Step 5: call her
Step 6: hang up and feel the kick in the gut from her soft, suffering voice
Step 7: cry
Step 8: decide that you are dreaming and that none of this is real
Step 9: realize that this is all real
Step 10: get up off of the floor
Step 11: decide that you will keep living as long as she does
Step 12: cry

What else can I do?
There are no more steps on the list.

Our hands, together, always. Photo belongs to me.

Our hands, together, always. Photo belongs to me.

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35 thoughts on “List Lesson: 12 Step Program

  1. I am so sorry your family is going through this Erica. Watching a loved one in pain is heartbreaking & leaves us with such a feeling of helplessness. I wish her & you easier & more peaceful days.

  2. I don’t know what your sister is going through, but I lost my son to an overdose at 20, and I could have written your list. I feel the pain so acutely in your words. Never let her go or give up on her.

    • I am so sorry about your son. So very sorry. My sister has a rare, chronic autoimmune disease … un-diagnosed, even by the Mayo Clinic. It is a vicious cycle.
      But, as you said, I will never give up on her.

  3. There is a great quote by Elizabeth Kubler Ross: “The most beautiful people are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
    I don’t know you, but I don’t have to. Anyone who has experienced pain, loss and grief, will understand your words. You will get through it, I hope she does too. I wish you and your family strength.

  4. I’m sorry you and your family are experiencing all of this. She sounds like a strong spirit…as are you. Hold onto each other; don’t let go. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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  6. I’m sorry that your sister isn’t well, I hope that the doctors can find a way to fix what is wrong or at least make her comfortable. 😦 I know it isn’t easy to stay strong but on those moments when you feel the weakest that’s when you grab the significant other because they will be your rock.

  7. Your piece is so powerful. I’m glad you are sharing your pain with us. The word press community is so supportive. You deserve all the support you can get.

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