INSIDE THE TICKING MOMENTS OF A PANDEMIC– II –Linda Lee Greene, April 1, 2020, Columbus, Ohio, USA
A TALE OF TWO LIVES
Fifteen months ago, I was with my kid sister, Suzee, as she succumbed to a long illness. She was a radiant creature of 63 years of age. In her final weeks, family and friends gathered at her side and stayed with her, myself included. I came away from the experience saddened and distraught, but also enlightened in an utterly unexpected way.
I was an adolescent when Suzee was born. The first time I held her in my arms, she was three days old. I was privy to the opening three decades of her life from an intimate standpoint that can only be provided in the fold of a birth-family. My concept of her was pretty much set in stone. I would describe Suzee as quiet; shy; private. She was a loner. She stood apart. The spotlight held little interest for her. She would prefer to steal away in a book. She loved animals more than people.
Thirty years before her death, Suzee relocated from Ohio to the Gulf Coast of Florida, and there she forged a new life for herself. Our sister, Sherri, and I had remained in Ohio. While visits, letters, and telephone calls were consistently passed among us, there is just so much people can know about the nitty gritty of one another’s life under such circumstances. The bottom line was that Suzee got away from us, to a large degree. Separated from the support of her early foundation, as well as out from under its scrutiny and stresses, she remade herself. While I was with her in her final three weeks, I was stunned to see that the Suzee I knew was only one, narrow dimension of her, and I saw it through the dynamic at work between her and the people she had attracted to herself in Florida.
The shy, quiet, private Suzee had grown into a deeply loved, very popular, and sought-after person. She had evolved into a witty chatterbox and a raconteur. She had become a talented artist. She was a property and a business owner. She was an advocate for animals and a minister of their care. She didn’t have children of her own, but in her role as a business person, she sheltered, guided, and mentored many young people. One after another, people told me that Suzee was the greatest woman they had ever known. What a revelation all this was to me!
Had I not been with her during her final weeks, I would have missed knowing the complete Suzee. And more importantly, Suzee would not have had the chance to reveal herself to me. She yearned to see the amazement in my eyes. She longed for my validation. She needed me to endorse her achievements. She wanted so much for me to open my mind about her. Otherwise, the whole of Suzee’s story would have gone undiscovered. She was desperate that I get her story right because she knew I would write it.
My experience with Suzee circles back to our current situation with Coronavirus. I find myself lamenting the missed opportunities for people everywhere to examine and likely to edit the final chapter of the life of their dying loved-ones. Souls are passing away all alone. Confessions, apologies, secrets, successes, failures, ideas, histories, heroics, revelations, statements of love, and more, are going unsaid. So many vital stories are vanishing, are getting lost, are adrift in the ethers.
I hope that after Coronavirus, some sort of archive of the stories will emerge. Lacking that, I yearn for something akin to the Viet Nam wall scribed with the names of our precious brothers and sisters across the world who lost their lives to the virus.© #STAYHOME #SAVELIVES #INTHISTOGETHER
**A personal note to my readers: Muse kicked me out of my cave and told me to get back to my keyboard. It is a struggle, but I will take a stab at following her lead whenever she deigns to whisper in my mind’s ear.