Monday, September 24, 2007

A Letter to Heather

Dear Heather,

This week marks six years since you left.

Six years since D, your brother and my husband, had to get hold of your Mum, Dad, and Sisters late at night to tell them how you left.

Six years since D had to take you home, his heart breaking and burdened with the guilt he felt at not being able to protect you while you were in Florida. He still blames himself you know, that if he hadn’t been based in Florida, you would never have come here searching for something better for yourself.

Many times I think of you.

We met only on two occasions. Not enough time to really get to know each other. I do know though from my chats with D, and from what I saw on my visits to Florida when we did meet, that you were at times a troubled soul. Searching always for that which would make you happy. Looking for validation and approval from the wrong kinds of people. Putting on the mask of bravado, and displaying that ‘devil may care’ attitude for which so many had come to know you. Some of us could see past the mask, and know, that like all of us, you just wanted to love and to be loved, and that you had the same fierce sense of loyalty to your friends and family as the rest of your clan have.

In these six years I’ve come to know your family so well, but I feel like there is something missing. You were my husband’s sister, are my husband’s sister and you are gone.

We missed you at our wedding, so acutely aware of your absence. D and your family found it painful not to have you there to celebrate such a happy occasion with us. We had flowers in the church in your memory and I carried sprigs of heather in my bouquet, to have the ‘spirit’ of you there in some way.

I look at my children whom you’ve never met and I feel sad that they do not know you. I want to talk to you, to tell you about them. How Miss E resembles all of her paternal Aunts in her outgoing and headstrong nature, which pleases me and terrifies me all at the same time. I want to tell you about Baby J and his sweet nature. His smiles and his giggles and his cheeky expressions. I feel bad that my only way to talk to them about you is through a small number of photographs and very limited memories.

I think of my husband and the rest of your family and I get angry. I feel bitter that they’re cheated out of more memories with you. I get annoyed at you for making poor choices the night you died.

I want to scream at you not to be so stubborn. I want to plead with you like your friends did that night, not to go off with some drunken loser you’d just met. To beg you to wait until someone you knew would get you home safely. I want to ask you what in the hell you were thinking getting into a car with a drunk driver, on a night with what could possibly have been the worst rain seen in South Florida? I want to reach into that river and fight to get you out of that damn truck, to do what the drunken loser wouldn’t try to do because he was too busy saving his own hide. All because I don’t want you to be gone and because I don’t want D to have this pain and guilt that he has carried since he lost you, his baby sister.

These feelings of mine pale compared to what D feels, what your Mum and Dad feel, your Sisters, your Nieces and Nephew in Ireland, who knew you so well. Who love and miss you so much. I’ve seen D work his way through the major stages of grief, and then go right back to the start and work his way through them all over again. I’ve seen his grief bubble up at obvious times like birthdays and anniversaries, and at less predictable times in response to the tiniest reminders of you and my heart breaks for him. I do not know the depth of his hurt, but I do know that when I try to only imagine what it would be like to lose any of my siblings, a searing pain cuts right through me.

I see your Mum turn to God, and draw comfort from Him. I see your Dad withdrawn, and weary. He misses you, and lately he has said he wants to be where you are. I see your Sisters bottle up their grief, and their refusal to talk openly about you – something that saddens and frustrates your Mum. She has lost one baby, and she is watching her other babies struggle with this loss, too. She wants to help them but feels powerless to do so since they won’t talk to her.

While I feel like a fraud to say that I mourn for you, since I didn’t know you well, I do mourn. I mourn for not knowing you. I mourn for what could have been. I mourn for the fact that you never knew the joy of being a wife and a mother – the two things your Mum says you wanted most in life. I mourn that my children will never know you, and that D will never have the pleasure of seeing them interact with you.

I trust and pray that your family and my D can know a time when the raw pain of losing you eases a little bit more. That they can hold on to their happiest memories of you and in them find comfort.

I also trust and pray that you are in a better place now, Heather. That you now know a love beyond your imagination and that you are with us in a very special way.

Love from

Annie

24 comments:

dawn224 said...

That's so raw, and honest, and beautiful.

Peace to you Heather... wherever you are ...

andi said...

So sad. You must have cried your eyes out while writing this - I know I bawled while reading. May she rest in peace.

~JJ! said...

Oh sweetie. I'm sorry.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

How very moving and sad. It must have taken a lot out of you to write this, but write it you did. And very well, too.

pinks & blues girls said...

Your love for your husband and your in-laws is so evident in this letter. To mourn for them, for the loss that they have felt, for the aunt your children will never know... this was so very moving. And so very sad.

Jane, Pinks & Blues

Kimberly said...

I like Dawn's comment. Raw and honest and beautiful.

Shauna Loves Chocolate said...

Thank you for sharing. My heart is with you and D. I'm so sorry.

Feener said...

this is so well written. i am truly sorry for your loss. i hope that the sisters can find away to talk about it and find some sort of peace. i hope your husband has some sort of peace as well, if not for a moment.

Serina Hope said...

This a a beautiful piece. I can almost feel your tears for your family. I am so sorry for everyone's loss.

Pari said...

This is one of the saddest most touching things I have read in a long time. The honestly of your feelings, the pain is all so obvious in this. I feel that wherever she is Heather must feel it.
May she rest in peace.

Mrs. Schmitty said...

A very beautiful post. I am so sorry that this happened. I hope Heather finally found some peace.

Annette Lyon said...

Powerful piece. So sorry for the loss.

Cursed Tea said...

wow, I came here to tell you that yes, the Scots do love the Irish too and I read your post!!

a very moving piece, poigniant and appropriate. I'm so sad at your family's loss. I know from personal experience the pain never goes away but you get used to living with it. She will always be missed.

Best Wishes
Kirsty

WorksForMom said...

Oh Annie, that was so touching. That was a beautiful tribute. I am so sorry.

Trenches of Mommyhood said...

Annie, that was a beautiful letter. I hope your husband reads it.

lady macleod said...

Lovely Annie, just lovely. As a person who has had my share of loss I applaud your sensitivity in allowing your husband to grieve as he needs to do, "revisiting". Each of us moves through grief at our own pace. I'm sure the happiness you and your children give him, helps with that process.

A touching and lovely tribute.

Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

What a beautiful tribute to Heather. I'm so sorry for your's and D's and D's family's loss.

moodswingingmommy said...

What a beautiful tribute you have written. My heart aches for your husband's loss...I can't imagine how you all have endured this.

Six years...September 2001 was such an awful time for so many of us.

Iota said...

This is a beautiful letter. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Flamenco Mom said...

Annie, what a beautiful, touching letter. How sad that your family experienced such a terrible loss. I know it saddens you and D that you kids will not get to have Auntie Heather around, but talking about her and remembering her is a wonderful way to keep her spirit alive. Hugs to you and your family.

Annie said...

Thank you all for your lovely comments. This was a hard post to write, but I felt better getting it out, especially the part about being angry at Heather, a feeling that has surfaced often for me in the last 6 years. This is obviously much tougher on my husband than it is on me, and your thoughts for him are very much appreciated.

Suburban Oblivion said...

((Hugs)) :(

Deborah said...

Wow Annie. What a beautiful moving and sad post. How awful for you all.

lastdayofspring said...

MY GOD! BRAVO, Annie, Bravo.....

Not only do you have a tremendous written ability, but an expressive one as well. Not one who read this didn't feel what your words spun and evoked. So sorry for your D, the little ones, and the rest of Heather's family.

You got me with the heather sprigs in the bouquet mention.