My sister, Mary, 48 years old and the middle child, died suddenly this afternoon, Oct. 16th. Her 15 year old son was still at school and her husband was at work when my oldest sister, Sine, dropped by Mary's house in Montreal to pick up a few things. My sister Mary hadn't been feeling well and told Sine that she'd leave the door unlocked because she was going to take a nap on the couch in the living room and if she was asleep she asked Sine not to wake her.
Sine arrived with her husband Gregory in the late afternoon, went into the house and found Mary on the couch. Sine knew right away that Mary was dead but couldn't accept it at first. She turned away and tried to convince herself that it wasn't true, then went up to Mary and touched her and she was cold.
Sine and her husband called emergency and a little while later Mary's son, John Malcolm, arrived home from school. If Sine and Gregory hadn't been there, John Malcolm would have been the first one to find his mother dead.
John Malcolm went into hysterics but eventually calmed down enough to leave with Gregory to find his father, John, Mary's husband, who was at the exercise club. By the time Gergory, John Malcolm and his father, John, arrived back at the house it was filled with officials, emergency staff and the coroner etc.
The cause of death hasn't been ascertained yet but it was clear that Mary had been ill for some time because she'd been losing considerable weight rapidly over the last few months and apparently she'd been throwing up for the past few days.
Mary was a heavy duty alcoholic. She and I were very close at one time but because of the disease she'd done some really terrible things to me and she'd been estranged from various members of our family over the years. Her oldest son Michael even came to live with my parents here at the farm when he was 12 (John Sr. is not his biological father) and Michael has lived in this area ever since, marrying and having a child of his own. But when he was younger my parents had to sue Mary to get her to send them money for Michael's upkeep, even though Mary was married to a millionaire executive. My parents were on welfare.
However, in recent months she'd made up with everyone, except me. I did receive a short note from her telling me she loved me and if we put aside "all the crap" she and I had had some great times together. I received the note with a closed heart. I always said that I'd never have anything more to do with her because she was so incredibly toxic, vicious and cruel, especially towards me for some reason. I felt that unless she came to me and told me she was in alcohol recovery and was sorry for all the things she'd done to me and wanted to make amends, I would never be able to have any sort of relationship with her.
She'd been looking sick and extremely thin for months and everyone she met commented on it and told her she needed to see a doctor. She told them, and my parents, that she'd been to her doctor and they'd tested for all sorts of things but couldn't find anything wrong with her. That was a lie. Sine asked John tonight who Mary's doctor was and John told her that to his knowledge Mary had never been to a doctor. John also never bothered to call an ambulance this morning when Mary was throwing up dark green vomit, which was still in a large bowl when the coroner arrived at around 8pm tonight. She took one look at it and said in all her years as a doctor and a coroner she'd never seen vomit that like before.
So Mary knew she was sick, which is probably why she sent me that note. After I read it my thought was "Far too little, far too late" and I thought about throwing it away but stopped myself and instead stuck it between the pages of a book. She wanted me to forgive her, but I couldn't. She didn't ask for forgiveness in the note, probably because in her alcoholic daze she couldn't admit she'd done anything wrong. She was in deep, deep denial, which is what prevented her from going to see a doctor when she knew she was sick. She was probably afraid the doctor would tell her either to stop drinking or that she was drinking herself to death. Maybe she didn't care that she was dying. Maybe she couldn't come right out and admit it to herself. Maybe that's how deep the denial went.
All I know is that out of the five siblings, Mary and I had always been the closest and when she died we were the furthest apart.
I'm glad I can be here with my parents to help them through this. We're all still numb from shock. We only learned tonight from my other sister, Jo-Anne, that Mary had still been drinking. Up until we found out, my parents just thought that she'd been getting far too thin lately. I hadn't seen Mary since Michael's wedding three years ago and of course, hadn't spoken on the phone to her except for three times when I answered the phone and it was her wanting to speak to my parents. Each time she kept trying to talk to me but I was very curt, cut her off and called my mother to pick up the phone. We did have a brief exchange during one of those times when she told me "to be nice" and asked me about my back injury. I began answering her because she still had power over me, being my older sister, and I'm not good at being rude, but I felt like I was getting sucked into a conversation with her and I didn't want to do that. I'd learned the hard way never to tell Mary anything because it would come back to haunt me in some insidious way later. Like when I went to my high school reunion in Montreal a few years ago and one of my teachers, who'd bumped into Mary at the grocery store, said to me "Oh, Brigid! I was so sorry to hear about your breakdown. Mary told me all about it when I saw her a few months back. I hope you're feeling better, dear." There had been no breakdown, just Mary's desire to make me look as bad as possible to as many people as possible. For what reason? Probably because I'd been there and seen her when she was at her worst, drunk and falling all over the place, embarrassing herself in public falling off chairs and so on, and her response was to try to make it look like I was the one with problems instead of her. She's always resented me for everything I ever did right. She never went to university and hated the fact that I did etc. etc. etc.
And now she's gone. Dead. Fell asleep on her couch and died in her sleep at the age of 48, leaving behind two sons and her husband, her parents and her siblings. We don't know what killed her but if I were to hazard a guess, I'd say she drank herself to death.
I don't know what to do with my inability to forgive her for all the things she did to me while she was alive. My sister Jo-Anne and my father both said the same thing; forgive her now. My reaction to that is that it's too late, she won't know that I've forgiven her. She died knowing I hadn't forgiven her. Forgiving her now would be a gift to myself and it's not me I want to give that gift to, it's her. I should have told her I forgave her, even if I didn't want her to be in my life, I should have told her I forgave her. My hard heart stopped me. I'm so very sorry now.