(Me pictured here with my older sister Christmas 1984)
Three years ago I found myself standing in my mother’s kitchen while my then 47-year-old sister made me a sandwich.
Only it wasn’t an ordinary sandwich it was two pieces of bread with paper in between it.
My sister looked at me and as if she were sleepwalking forgot who I was and began trying to pay me for the sandwich. In her world, I was the cashier at an establishment of some sort.
I politely took the money and tried to get her to lie down on the couch. You see my sister was suffering from drug withdrawals for probably the 100th time.
She had also been through another stint of quitting her drugs on her own after many arguments with my mother.
My mother had become the sole caregiver for my nearly 50-year-old sister, and it frequently has caused riffs between those in my family.
It’s a separate subject I don’t talk about often, but I find that it helps to do so or in this case write about it.
I’ve always been someone who draws their real life as inspiration for my stories. My sister’s addiction is one I often avoid even thinking about if I can help it because it hurts. I don’t like thinking about it. I don’t like remembering how she is compared to how she was because my sister is not dead she’s just sick.
It’s never easy during the holidays when you desperately want to see those that you love and in her case, you can’t.
You see she’s been in and out of rehab, we staged an intervention years ago, and none of it has helped.
I try not to think about how we all could have prevented it, but until my sister began her dark journey, she was one of those people that didn’t even so much as drink. I couldn’t have imagined that like so many that have fallen victims to the opioid addiction, that she too would have after having major surgery in 2007.
It doesn’t just happen overnight, and her issues only got worse after the death of our father in 2009.
The crazy thing about addiction is while you hear about the person suffering from the issue itself, you never really hear about the people in that person’s life that love the person. It isn’t just a battle the addict is suffering from; it is everyone involved.
I like to think of my sister the way she was. She was at one time, my best friend and another mother figure in my life. I miss the days I could pick up the phone and call her to ask her for advice. Now I don’t even have her telephone number because it changes all the time depending on where she is living.
She’s gotten clean since that day three years ago, but then about a year ago she fell back into darkness.
I get angry, and I have yelled at her in low moments of frustration. I’m not proud of those moments.
The holidays are here again in full force, and while I doubt that things will be much different than they have in the past, I still hold out hope she will get the help she needs and want it.