Subject Line : My Sister
My sister Susie passed away on Tuesday April 6th. She was found in her bed. So, ends an unhappy life of suffering.
This was the email I received from my ex-husband a few days ago.
I was a rock star the day I met Susie and her twin, Liz. It was two days before I married their brother. How exotic I was to this Finnish family - the first non-Fin and non-Lutheran to marry into a tight-knit clan. My rock star status derived from my accent - British! The fact that I'm Irish was not worthy of mention. I sounded English and I was from "there"!
"Do you know the Beatles?" - 1966. These two bubbly, blonds (natural - they were a pure Finnish bloodline) besiged me shyly. I must have been an enormous disappointment to them. Not only did I not know the Beatles - I wasn't even au fait with their music. Now ask me about a Beckett or Albee play and I could have, would have, probably did drive them to distraction with quotes.
"But", I remember Susie confronting me, "you said you sailed from Liverpool so you breathed the same air"! Oh I did , Susie, I did. For you I feigned an interest, I signed a poster, I wrote a note to your high school classmate stating I came from Liverpool. I suppose in the parlance of today - I gained street cred and so did you.
When the questions, the desperate hope that this new sister-in-law could be worth something, persisted, I shot back with , "Do you know Elvis?" - they mock-fainted in unison. " Elvis." Hands on heart - give me room to breath.
A few years after we were married, the twins were involved in a car crash. Liz recovered, married, scooped me on the names I had planned for my children - her naming her daughter Jessica meant my first borne became Lisa, and naming her first son Ian, meant my third child was named Nicholas. I have no enmity - my kids become their names and are precious.
Susie did not recover. There was back surgery followed by a period of living with us. More surgery, constant pain, and the slow realisation that Susie thrived on the attention that pain brought to her. Her, brother, my then husband and a physician brought to the table the phrase "Munchausen Syndrome".
Divorce was bitter and for many years we were totally estranged - so much so that his family, one I loved dearly, were denied me. Occasionally I heard snippets - "Susie is ill. Susie has had all her teeth pulled. Susie cannot walk".
Perhaps it is a blessing that Susie died in her sleep. It is not a blessing that she died alone, and I do not want her death to go unnoted.
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