Blog

Jun1
2018

She Liked Mornings

By Sarah Sterrett

It’s 4 AM on the eve of the one year anniversary of my sister’s suicide.

From the note that she wrote me before she left (more like a mini novel), I know a few of the things she did on that day. She dropped off some of her smaller furniture to Goodwill. She did a task she loathed—going to the post office—where she mailed a few boxes of her favorite books to some out-of-state friends, goodbye letters also included. Throughout it all, she was texting me, just like we always did. We lived far from each other, and from 2,000 miles away, everything seemed normal. She said she was at work, but it turns out she wasn’t. She was cleaning out her fridge.

My beautiful sister’s mental illness constantly told her lies: She was worthless. She didn’t deserve to eat. She was unlovable. It played on repeat each and every day.

For the record, she was certainly not worthless. She had a way of making you feel like you were the only person on the planet when you were in her presence. Her heart was so genuine and pure, and because she couldn’t hide it, she wore it on the outside. She didn’t smile often, but when she did, you knew you were witnessing magic. I trusted her completely; I still do.

She told me once that she liked mornings. The small window of time at sunrise brought her a short reprieve of calm and clarity, before her anxiety really got rolling for the day. She said that she felt like herself in those moments at dawn, and for awhile, I think she was living for those moments.

I’ve been dreading the anniversary for months, now it’s closing in. The moment when my life changed forever—queue the opening music to my very own horror movie. I knew something was wrong that morning. I wasn’t able to reach her, in every sense, and that sheer panic changed me on a cellular level—now ingrained in my every fiber.

This past year has made me want to die. But the crux is I can’t. Because I know how it feels when someone you love more than anything, who shares your blood, takes their own life. I don’t want the people in my life to go through this. They wouldn’t be OK. Their hearts would shatter, leaving a hole in its wake that could never be filled.

Just as your absence would, too.

As it always does, dawn is finally breaking in the east. It starts as just a shimmer of shapeless gray that creeps in around the edges. It tentatively snakes around the trees as if it’s hesitating. It’s not glorious, this morning, not yet. But it showed up.

I decide I need to run. I lace up my sneakers and take off into the woods, just another shadow.  I think about how cliché it is, literally running to try and escape my loss. Forcing my raw and ragged heart to do something other than just be a sucking wound. The pain is channeled into motion. It never leaves me but it pounds in time with my feet on the trail. As I fly past the trees, I remember reading somewhere that if you’re lost, your chances of survival are better if you keep moving.

I’m certainly lost, but it has nothing to do with being in the woods. I only wish it were that simple. My favorite person in the world isn’t here anymore. All the trips I wanted us to take, the late-night chats yet to be had, cups of our favorite tea yet to be enjoyed. I don’t know what the solution is, but I do know that she’d want me to keep running.

As I round the path’s bend, the sun is fully awake now and the forest is bathed in a golden summer-solstice glow. I marvel at how my broken heart slams around inside my chest. Apparently, it still wants to do its job. In pieces and on fire, it fights.

Right before she left, the last words my sister said to another human were to me via a text. She said: “It’s a beautiful morning.”

And it is.

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Comments (16)

  1. Yvonne

    Thirty-five years ago my father chose to end his life. I feel every shred of your pain. Peace.

    Reply  |  
    1. Sarah Sterrett

      Yvonne,
      “Shred” is a perfect word to describe it. Which you know firsthand. My sincere condolences for your father.
      – S

      Reply  |  
  2. regina

    beautifully written
    thank you for sharing your journey
    i lost my brother to suicide on 12/26/16 and empathize with your loss

    Reply  |  
    1. Sarah Sterrett

      Regina,
      I’m very sorry about the loss of your brother. I feel that losing a sibling to suicide contains so many deep and unique levels of pain. Perhaps we stay because they could not. We forge that solidarity with them, still.
      – S

      Reply  |  
  3. Coral

    This was stunningly written and reminded me of the simple and strong reason for living: how morning always comes. Love and light on you and your sister’s journeys.

    Reply  |  
    1. Sarah Sterrett

      Coral,
      Thanks for your comment. Sending love and light for your journey as well.
      We’re all in this together.
      – S

      Reply  |  
  4. Kat

    Oh my gosh. I am so sorry. I hate to see people suffering so badly because of this. It’s really a tragic thing. Especially when someone you love is going through it right now. All I can say to you is to keep fighting, keep hope. I pray for your sister who art in Heaven. Be strong, and be yourself even through the pain. Things will get better. I promise. 🙂

    Reply  |  
    1. Sarah Sterrett

      Kat,
      Thanks for your prayers. While I don’t know if a loss of this magnitude ever “gets better” I think it settles, evolves and deepens into a loving understanding and maybe (if we’re lucky) acceptance. The only way out is through, as they say.
      – S

      Reply  |  
  5. Becky

    This touched me beyond words. I have been fighting my own battle for quite some time, but hearing other people’s stories reminds me that I’m not alone, and with each morning that comes, life gives us another chance. Thank you for sharing you story of resilience. I pray you find peace and comfort in memories of your beautiful sister.

    Reply  |  
    1. Sarah Sterrett

      Becky,
      I hope each sunrise reminds your heart of its strength and spirit. You are most definitely not alone. There’s others like us, keeping our heads down and quietly pushing forward.
      – S

      Reply  |  
  6. petra

    very touching, but why would i lie to myself and pretend that anyone would care about me? people don’t even think of me, no one talks to me. i’m alone and forgotten. i don’t know if there’s anyway to shake this feeling of utter worthlessness and self-loathing. sorry for the rant i guess

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA

      Hi Petra, we want you to know that we care about you. We believe in your life and your story. We believe it is important. You are seen and heard by us. Please never forget that. If you’d like to share your story or receive some additional resources, feel free to email us at info@twloha.com.

      With Hope,
      TWLOHA

      Reply  |  
    2. Sarah Sterrett

      Petra,
      Your comment is a valid one. Respectfully, I’d like to point out that the lie here is that no one cares about you. I actually happen to care, for what it’s worth. I don’t check the comments on this piece for fun, or just to pass the time. I check them because people who are struggling still have a voice, and I want to hear it.
      “You suppose you are the trouble. But you are the cure.” (Rumi)
      – S

      Reply  |  
  7. Jessica

    Thank you for this piece. Reading it gives me hope that I can make it through this life shattering experience. Yesterday my baby sister killed her little boy and then killed herself. I am beyond broken with feelings of grief and guilt and I don’t know how to pick up the pieces and to also care for my family that are also shattered by what has happened. There are no words to describe how this feels, but I take comfort in yours.

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA

      Hi Jessica,

      Thank you so much for sharing a little of your story with us. We are encouraged by your strength. We are rooting for you and support you in this hard time. We can’t imagine the pain you are feeling, but we know that you are stronger than any of these things that are happening. If you ever need to share your thoughts and feelings, or would like some additional resources to help you during this time, feel free to email us at info@twloha.com.

      With Hope,
      TWLOHA

      Reply  |  
    2. Sarah Sterrett

      Jessica,
      Please accept my sincere condolences for your heartbreaking loss. You’re exactly right, there are no words so I won’t try to placate you with empty platitudes. Please try to take care of yourself during this time; take it minute by minute if you have to. And if you feel the need, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional counselor who specializes in traumatic loss. I won’t lie to you, this is a tough road but you don’t have to travel alone.
      I’m thinking of you.
      – S

      Reply  |  
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