long overdue

i stopped writing. i did. i’m not apologizing for it. it was a mandate, direct from my soul. i retreated into a shell of denial and waved the white flag. just couldn’t bring myself to spew about being “there”. you know, the dark, painful place called “this is your life now – deal with it.” and besides, if i had written, every post would have been the same: i am lost. i don’t understand why this happened. i can’t move on. and on, and on, and on.  being “there”, stuck in this place… it’s awful.  this place doesn’t just suck. it threatens to kill you, slowly, day by day. i can see why (and how) people fall into depression and lose years of their life after a traumatic event. how can you not? your world is suddenly flipped upside down, and yet you are somehow supposed to be able to cope effectively with the loss, (effectively, being the key word here) and also somehow move forward. what in the actual fuck, who can do that? with no training, with no prep work… there is no manual for what to do when your sister suddenly dies, no cliff notes on how to not only keep your head above water but still be a mom, a wife, an employee, et cetera. i could barely remember how to drive to work, the rest of it faded away.  i didn’t know how to deal, and i couldn’t share it with you as i simultaneously tread the dangerous water and held my breath.

there is no rule book for this. there is only time. lots and lots of time.

time to let your mind wander to those places it shouldn’t: the couldas, the wouldas, the shouldas. the what ifs. time to contemplate all the things you suddenly regret now. i should’ve visited her more. i really wasn’t as busy as i thought i was, i could’ve made time for her. i should’ve made time for her.  what that really means is i should’ve made her more of a priority. i am a shitty sister. i wish i had known her better, like… the real her.  towards the end of her life (that is so hard to say, it’s as if i’m talking about a 90 year-old lady) she started sharing with me real grown-up things, like her fears, her stressors, her dreams. things that surprisingly blindsided me. for a long time i guess i had only known the happy-go-lucky angie. angie didn’t have “fears” or “worries”… she laughed those things off, she scoffed in the face of danger. she was sunshine and rainbows, all day every day. she never wanted to bring anyone down with her own crap, because her mission in life was to build people up and shower them with love. there’s no room for your own shit when you are showering people with love. and in the last couple of years, as she allowed me to see her vulnerability, i tried my best to shower her with love and support, just as she had done to me a million times over. i wish i had been able to support her better. in the seemingly infinite time that has passed since she died, i regret this almost on a daily basis.

i would’ve complimented her more. on her beauty, her one-of-a-kind style. she, like most women, struggled to take compliments. she hated her cuban nose. i can remember clear as day as a girl my grandma offered to pay for plastic surgery to reduce its bridge. in fact, she may have repeated this offer many times over.  so i can see why she had a complex, maybe, just a little? she complained about her butt. ok well, what woman doesn’t complain about their butt.  too big, she’d say. you’re cuban, i’d reply. it’s in your DNA. no getting around that. i wish she was here right now, i’d tell her she’s perfect. big nose, big butt and all.

i wish i could’ve done something to prevent her death.

there. i said it. it’s what we all naturally try to do… look back in hindsight and play the coulda woulda shoulda game. only this particular game gets real dangerous, real quick. because before you know it, you allow guilt to grab hold of you and wrap its hands around your neck.  my brain knows for a fact no one could’ve stopped angie from dying that night. but my heart is non-sensical, purposefully illogical and flighty. it whispers to me that perhaps something could’ve been done, something, anything, and the outcome would’ve be different. maybe if i could’ve done those things i would instead be sitting across from her at a table, staring into her big brown eyes, watching her raise a venti quad soymilk hazelnut latte with 3 pumps to her brightly-colored lips. i would hear her raucous laugh, echoing around the room. i could reach over and place my arm around her shoulder and squeeze her tight.

this game can get real dangerous. i don’t like to play it. in fact, i try very hard not to. but i did, for a while there, and it was not a good situation. i was detached from my life, my family. i couldn’t concentrate on anything, it was like i had amnesia. i “slept” like crap, nightmares all the time. i’d wake up like a zombie. it took months before these things started to fade away, and i watched others, some of my closest loved ones, succumb to this game. some are still in this game. and it’s almost as hard to watch as it was to hear she was dead. because this mind fuck, these coulda woulda shouldas, sap you of everything and leave you nothing in return. they leave you a heap of tears on the floor, they scream in your ear “you weren’t good enough for her, you didn’t deserve to have her”. and when you’re in that nightmare of grief and loss and depression, you don’t have the ability to discern the truth. you believe those words.

it took an epiphany for me to realize something had to give. i was having a breakdown in my room late at night (one of many) and suddenly i felt as if she was right next to me, watching me. i could see her face, feel her there… and she was so sad, so heartbroken that i was grieving her loss so violently, and blaming myself. and it hit me, angie would never want that for me, for anyone. in fact, she’d probably yell at me (while giving me a hug, because that’s what she did) and tell me to cut it out. i don’t know what changed in that moment, but i felt a switch inside. i had this revelation, and somehow was able to forgive myself for the self-imposed guilt and let go of it. it’s okay that angie’s death is traumatic and weighs heavy on my mind and heart, but i realized in that moment, for whatever reason, that it can’t be my everything anymore. mostly because it would cause her pain and i can’t do that to her. i won’t do that to her.

there is nothing anyone could have done to prevent her death. if you are reading this and you too feel the self-imposed guilt, i beg you to let it go. nothing good comes from it, only more pain and unnecessary punishment. she would want you to let it go.

i’m trying to be strong. the holidays are coming and i’m tempted to crawl back in the hole. i miss you so much angie. getting this all out is so very long overdue. i’m not even sure this passage makes any sense. i’m dusting off the cobwebs and taking baby steps. it feels good to get this stuff out. and since it is Halloween for a few more minutes i’d like to share with you one of my favorite Angie costumes, naturally self-made. i can’t explain why it’s my favorite, hell, i’m not even sure what she actually was going for… monster? yellow zombie? regardless, she rocked it and was so proud of it because she made it with her bare hands. of course she did.  and although the hot pants probably didn’t help to minimize her butt, i wish i could tell her she looked amazing and not to change a thing. i love you angie. ❤

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