Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 18 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

She would have been 50

I don't always remember this day, but I've been thinking about her a lot lately. And with good reason, I guess, as today would have been her 50th birthday. But she's not here. She hasn't been here for 36 years. Isn't it strange? I miss her, yet I have no idea who she would have been had she not been killed at age 14.

I was 15. My step sister was 14. Pam left the house in a breeze to go ride her bike with her friend, Paula. It was before dinner. I didn't even say goodbye. I don't even think I was in the kitchen as she flew out the door, but I heard her go. My step-mother was beginning to prepare our meal. A very short time later, before my step-mother had even turned on the stove, I heard the phone ring, my step-mother hurriedly yelling to my father, and both of them flying out the door.

This was long before the days of cell phones. I don't remember how we learned that Pam had been hit by a truck, but we knew, and we knew it was serious. My older brother got our neighbor, one of my favorite teachers, to come to the house. I guess he thought we needed an adult present, as there were five of us between the ages of 4 and 16 left at home.

Our neighbor tried to continue making the dinner my step-mother had started. I called my boyfriend and retreated to the bedroom I shared with Pam. After my boyfriend arrived, dropped off by his parents, we laid together silently on the bed.

At some point the phone rang again. I don't remember if I answered it or not, but I'll never forget my father's words from the other end of the line. Tearfully, he said, "She's not going to make it, honey." Pam was brain dead. She would have turned 50 today.

Pam and I were only sisters for a little over 3 years. Neither of us had had a sister before. She had one brother, only 4 years old when she died. I had 3 brothers of my own. We moved into my step mother's house, which despite being built for a family of four, then housed eight. I moved not only into Pam's bedroom, but into her bed, too! 

Needless to say, things were a bit awkward at first, but sharing a bed with someone lends itself to finding common ground. We became very close. I remember our long talks at night. I remember us clinging silently to each other as our parents, in the room next door, fought hard many times. We had our own friends, our own lives, but at home we played catch in the yard for hours, had long discussions, gave each other back rubs, and basically stuck together.

Pam died just a few days into her Freshman year. My life changed the day she died. Even 36 years later, I can still feel the pain, chaos and confusion of that time. But today, I'm happy I am remembering her, and us, and our time as sisters.

Fifty years old... Would she be married, have kids? Where would she be living? What would she be doing? I wonder. But there is one thing I don't have to wonder about. I know this, Pam and I would be celebrating her birthday together today. In those three short years together we laid the foundation of a lifetime relationship. It's unfortunate we never had the opportunity to live it. Happy Birthday, Pam.

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