I Couldn’t Save Her

Today she would be 40. I was going to visit her grave – about 15 minutes from my house – and got too busy. Or maybe I’m just avoiding. I don’t know…
I do know that five and a half years after my sister’s suicide, I’m still feeling the stinging pain of her loss. I’ve already been through the anger phase in the grief cycle. It’s run its course to the extent that about all I can feel angry about anymore is the fact that she’ll never get wrinkles. So unfair…
I remember spending some time with a mutual friend of ours – a friend Shawna and I spent a lot of time with in our college years – about a year after Shawna’s passing. We reminisced about times with Shawna… laughed til we cried and cried til we laughed. My sister knew how to have fun, and she lit up every room she walked into. Authentic Shawna was about as sweet and hilarious and amazing as they come. I admitted to my friend that I deeply regretted putting so much energy into trying to “fix” Shawna and not enough energy into just embracing her. Right after I dropped off our friend, a certain song came on the radio.
I don’t know how it works on the other side with loved ones reading your feelings, but I swear, Shawna knew my heart perfectly that night – beyond what I’d shared with our friend. And I don’t know how it works on the other side with tweaking radio stations and prompting dj’s to play certain things at JUST the right time, but…this was most definitely divine timing:

Seems like it was yesterday when I saw your face You told me how proud you were but I walked away If only I knew what I know today I would hold you in my arms I would take the pain away Thank you for all you’ve done Forgive all your mistakes There’s nothing I wouldn’t do To hear your voice again Sometimes I want to call you but I know you won’t be there I’m sorry for blaming you for everything I just couldn’t do And I’ve hurt myself by hurting you Some days I feel broke inside but I won’t admit Sometimes I just want to hide ’cause it’s you I miss You know it’s so hard to say goodbye when it comes to this Would you tell me I was wrong? Would you help me understand? Are you looking down upon me? Are you proud of who I am? There’s nothing I wouldn’t do To have just one more chance To look into your eyes and see you looking back I’m sorry for blaming you for everything I just couldn’t do And I’ve hurt myself If I had just one more day, I would tell you how much that I’ve missed you since you’ve been away Oh, it’s dangerous It’s so out of line to try to turn back timeI’m sorry for blaming you for everything I just couldn’t do And I’ve hurt myself By hurting you

-Hurt, Christina Aguilera

That song launched a sea-storm of emotions in my heart that I’d bottled up since hearing she’d taken her life in that lonely hotel room one year previous. This has never happened before or since, but I began to hyperventilate. I let the emotions out and labeled them as they unleashed…. “I ccccouldn’t ssssaaaaaaave you!” “I am ssssoooooo ssssssorrrry!!!” “Whyyyyy didn’t I see?” …and on and on. I felt her there, sharing in the sadness and remorse. And love.
Thank heavens there is One who could – and did – and HAS…saved her. I know this with everything that I am. She is okay. More than okay. She’s Authentic Shawna again.
This knowledge doesn’t take away the human moments that I crave her presence. Yet – I feel incredibly blessed that her death taught me the most important lesson of my life. And that is…that being a source of Love and Acceptance is our only job. It’s why we’re here, and it’s the only way to see anyone through anything.
So Happy Birthday, my beloved sis. And thank you.

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