Friday, May 07, 2004

A statue stands in a shaded place
An angel girl with an upturned face
A name is written on a polished rock
A broken heart that the world forgot

Through the wind and the rain
She stands hard as a stone
In a world that she can't rise above
But her dreams give her wings
And she flies to a place where she's loved,
Concrete Angel...

Technically, this post should be for tomorrow--but seeing that I just took a test dealing with, among other things, Dissociative Identity Disorder, I figured it was fitting that I do it now.
One year ago tomorrow was Thursday, May 8th, 2003. I woke up to a disorganized househould. It seems that my sister's boyfriend had called our house, hysterical. She was unconscious and not responding to CPR, and he had already called the ambulance. My mom was in tears and my dad was grim-facedly getting both of them ready to go over to her house. However, I still had to go to school, so I got in my car and started driving.
I don't really remember what passed through my head on that drive--my sister had had numerous "incidents" before and managed to find her way through them. After 30 years of living with DID I guess she'd had to adapt to crazy situations. However, something changed when this song came on the radio. "You Were Meant For Me," by Jewel. I'd heard it a lot before and kind of liked it. But then it got to the refrain:

Dreams last so long
Even after you're gone...

I guess I knew at some level that this was one scrape Shelagh wasn't going to be able to get of in one piece. And sure enough, around 1:00 that afternoon, Dad and my brother Joe came to pick me up at Fuqua. She had been dead probably before her boyfriend had even made the call.
Before you think I'm making this into a sobfest, let me make one thing clear. I don't cry easily. I used to a lot in middle school, and through negative conditioning I learned to hold it in. I never cried for Shelagh at her funeral; I guess I was almost happy, in a way, that her pain was over. But I cried for her many times after, because, as my brother Jamie put it, "No one ever understood me like she did." There have been too many times this year when I felt like I needed to talk to someone and realized that that person was my sister. I know she can still hear me, but one-sided conversations just aren't the same.
But looking at all of this another way--I'm never going to let anyone, not myself nor anyone that I'm close to, go gently into that good night. If Shelagh could hold on and weather the storms, then so can we. One of her bad days would probably send most of us "normal" people into a depressive tailspin. She lived with demons, both internal and external, that are probably better left undescribed. And yet she kept on, till the age of 40, until, as Thomas Hardy said in Tess,
"'Justice' was done, and the President of the Immortals had ended his sport with [her]."
Nothing I could have done would have healed her pain. And indeed, not much any of us could have done would have accomplished much. We could only mend as many cracks as we could before the walls came crashing down. But I'll be damned if I let anyone I love fall victim to a pain like that. No-one will suffer like that on my watch as long as I have my strength.
So here's to Shelagh. If anyone deserves a happy afterlife, it's you.

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell? Blue skies from pain?
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil? Do you think you can tell?

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
Did you exchange a walk-on part in the world for a lead role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fishbowl year after year
Running over the same old ground, what have we found? The same old fears,
Wish you were here...


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