The following words are not mine. They are taken from the journal of a dear friend who has given permission to share. These heartbreaking journal entries were made as she traveled a road filled with pain and love, supporting her sister through a battle with addiction. It is an unfiltered glimpse into the hope and anguish that comes from watching a family member struggle. It is also a testament to a sisters love.
Thank you for sharing Toni – TIH
I write this so people know I am a big sister. So they know love. So they know me, and they know Patti. That she was here, and that she was damaged by someone and that she got lost in trying to forget it. But most of all…. She was loved beyond words.
I held your hand today.
Your soft skin is so warm. Hot even. I wonder about the fight inside your body; the war that is waging. Will you win?
Dad came to see you today, Kiddo.
We all take turns because we can only have two in your ICU room at a time. Margo and I waited outside for our turn. He came out crying. First time ever I can remember ever seeing him cry. It disturbed me; he’s not supposed to cry. He’s the strong one.
I prayed for you today.
I prayed so hard it hurt. I prayed like I believed it could make a difference. I used to hope God existed when you were lost. I cried and told Him how scared I am. I wonder if He heard me and if He hears the prayers of all the others who have sent out prayers for you. There are so many prayers being sent on your behalf. You will be in awe when you see all the well wishes. You are loved.
I brushed your hair today.
You have the most beautiful hair. Thick and healthy now, like Margo’s. I remember dying it for you a few weeks ago because your silly arm makes it so difficult to do by yourself. I remember feeling put out when you asked me to do it, but then we had so much fun the night we did it I forgot what a pain in the neck you can be. If I sit back and listen to my heart I can hear your laughter.
I braided your hair today.
It was such a mess. Your nurse said when you came in she took out the clip that kept your red locks so pretty. I made it pretty for you again. I remember missing you and your friendship. I’m so glad we have you back. I had lost you for so many years to the vices that held you captive. When you came home it was like a rebirth. I will never forget the happiness it gave to all of us to have you at family get-togethers again. Normal. Twenty years is a long time to have a part of the ‘whole’ missing.
I painted your toenails today.
While you slept; one of your favourite colors. It’s a sparkly orange. As I painted I remembered days of our childhood when we laughed and giggled and talked about boys. When we painted our toes together. I lost a tear this time, no giggles. Margo came to help me, but she couldn’t do it. She just cried. I don’t blame her, this is tough. I know you would do this for me. Your nurse looked at me with a funny expression when I left and said she didn’t think her sister would have done that for her. I guess she and her sister aren’t very close.
I left you laying there today.
Tubes and machines keeping you here, you’re breathing. You’re just sleeping right? I don’t want to leave you alone there with nobody holding your hand. I drive home after sitting with Margo for an hour or so. We don’t talk about you. I’m scared and lonely. Funny how a person never truly appreciates what’s in their lives until it threatens to leave.
I texted you today.
I was looking for a phone number when I ran across your last text to me before you went in. You were so happy that Billy brought Trucker to see you at the hospital. I guess you left your bed to go see him didn’t you? You love that silly dog so much. It’s probably a little crazy texting your phone kiddo but it’s like a link because I can see what you wrote to me just a few short days ago. You were so thankful that I was able to take care of your dog until Billy got home.
If there’s one thing I can say about you being in my life again it’s how much I appreciate your open and loving nature. No matter what silliness you manage to text or call me about, you never fail to say “I love you sister!”. Or should I say “Seester”, I love that so much kiddo. I want to hear it again too. Please say it again.
Text Message Saturday January 9, 2011 7:17 pm
“Hey Kiddo. It’s Saturday and I just left you in the hospital. I painted your nails and braided your hair. I made you pretty. I’m scared. I love you”
Text Message Saturday January 9, 2011 7:19 pm
“U look so frail hooked up to all those machines. I can’t tell you how hard this is. Dad cried when he came today. We are all so worried Patti.”
Text Message January 9, 2011 7:20 pm
“If you could see your family surrounding you today you would fight so hard to get better. So fight Sissy. Get better so you can wake up and laugh with me again.”
Text Message January 10, 2011 2:49 am
“I’m laying in bed at 2 am. I can’t sleep. I’m staring at the ceiling. All can say is I love you. Hurry up and get better k?”
I was in to see you again today.
I hold your hand and talk like you’re really listening. Like your nurse isn’t hovering and watching all the machines like a hawk. She sits outside your room watching you through the glass. You should feel special, she’s yours and yours alone. You’re in good hands. I know I will find it hard to leave you again when it’s time to go back to my kids and greet their anxious faces with news. Today I want to be able to tell them, “Aunty Patti got a little better today. She responded to the medication.”
Love you so much little sister. Come on back.
Evening January 10, 2011
I gave you a sponge bath today.
You slept so peacefully as I made you clean and I cried. I got good news. Doctor said you were doing better and that they will try to bring you out of the coma to test whether or not they can remove the tubes. I am happy. Soon we will be talking and teasing each other again. We are all waiting anxiously for tomorrow morning. Talk to you tomorrow kiddo. Sleep well. I love you.
January 11, 2011
I got angry at you today.
After the harsh tears from seeing you still hooked up and frail. They tried to wake you up earlier only to have you crash and require sedation again. The ventilator remains. Your lungs are very bad and sensitive he said. Your nurse Rochelle hopes you’ll come out of this. “She is so lucky to have so much love”, she told me as I sat in your room and let tears flow. I held your hand and said ‘I love you’ after my fear and anger subsided. You turned your head towards me and you opened your eyes slightly. I know you heard me little sister. Fight. Fight this thing and come home.
Mom is on her way. I’ll pick her up at the airport at 10 and bring her to your side. Tonight before I come I’ll tuck in the kids and we will pray as a family that you get more fight in you and that God puts angels around you to help you win this. See you soon.
January 12, 2011 12:49 am
I brought Mom to see you today.
She sobbed when she saw you. You don’t look like the same person. Your hands and arms are swollen and your color is just not right. She’s scared and she has every reason to be. They told her the truth tonight. It’s not good. I watched her as she wiped some hairs off of your forehead and talked gentle to you. “Come on kiddo you gotta come out of this…”
I can’t imagine her fear. No parent should ever outlive a child, 4 years old or 40. You will always be her child. Fight Patti. Just fight.
January 13, 2011
No change today.
You need to wake up Patti.
January 14, 2011
I smiled thinking about you today.
I didn’t come in, I’ve opened my new store now. I heard from Mom they weaned you off of two drugs completely. You are processing oxygen all on your own.
I remembered your sweet little face as a child and how fiery you were. Memories flooded me. You were always trouble. I’m wishing it goes as well in the next couple days as it did today. I’m loving you and holding you up in prayer. I miss your stupid texting about nothing and your ridiculous phone calls about what your silly dog just did… I miss you brat. Wake up!
January 15, 2011
Hey! I talked with you today!
Welcome back! You swore at me and you were cranky because you couldn’t get comfortable. I tried to help you but nothing works right now. You told Mom and I that you will never go on the ventilator again. Never. “Never allow them to do this to me again.” You said. We cried together, you told me how much you loved me… that I had no idea how much. Yeah I do, Kiddo. I know. I love you too baby sister. I need you here. I need the ‘whole’. I’m so glad you’re back. There’s still a long road ahead, but I know you’re here to stay now. For another while. Stay till we are old and grey. You, Margo and I will be sitting together pinching the butts of the orderlies waiting on us in the nursing home… I can see it now…
No more painful anxious waiting. No more worry. You’re back. So hurry up, get out.
December 14, 2015
I sent you my book today.
You can’t figure out the kobo. You came into the shop and I put it all on the kobo myself. This way you can read it on the way to Mom’s. You make me laugh so much. I know when you read it you will give me your honest opinion. Bad reviews and all.
December 18, 2015
Hey! I saw you again today.
It doesn’t happen often enough. I know I complain about it to you. I just love you kiddo. You look so happy and healthy today. I gave you your Christmas present early because you will be spending it in BC with Mom this year. I knew that you don’t have any photo albums and I had these ones made up, of you growing up and Trucker. I have another one coming, but it hasn’t arrived yet, it’s of our family, so you could have us with you all the time. I didn’t mean to make you cry. I know they will be cherished. I wish you weren’t always so busy, very busy. But, make time for me soon k?
I’m still here.
December 25, 2015
I talked with you today.
Merry Christmas Sissy. You cried again, about the photo albums. You are so open and honest with your feelings. I’m so glad you are with Mom this year and that she has someone with her for Christmas. She and Don cherish the time you get to be there. Thank you for telling me they liked their photo albums too. More tears are not a bad thing. I hope you can spare some time when you get home. I’d like to see you soon. Hug Mom n Dad for me. Love you.
You took the time to read my book. You told me exactly what you felt. and that we need to get together and go through it together with a box of wine! Yes! Hurry home though, I have something here for you. Waiting.
December 28, 2015
You texted me all the way home today. I love that you let me know where you are on that awful trip through the mountains. It’s always such a relief to see that one word come through my phone. “Home.”
I called Mom today.
She’s always so sad when any of us leave her there in BC. She told me how awesome your visit was and that you all just sat and relaxed for ten whole days. She told me how healthy you were. I smiled. This makes me so happy. You have struggled for so long against addictions and you have no idea how good it is to see you winning.
January 1, 2016
I called you today.
“Happy New Year Seester!” You yelled at me through the phone. I reminded you of the Christmas present I have for you. “We’ll get together soon as I have time, Toni.”
January 10, 2016
We met at Bob’s for Dad’s birthday today.
I was sad to see you hadn’t shown up again. I wish you knew that despite your past, we still love you. We just want to see you. All of us. You never have to avoid us Patti, but you do. Every family gathering is just missing you; it makes me sad. You make up a part of the whole. You are a part of the “Sum of our parts.” I hate that you’re always missing when we gather. It makes me sad. Hurry up Patti. Show up.
January 17, 2016
Oh God! I texted you today.
You were so angry. I told you about Dad’s cancer and his surgery on the 4th.
“Why didn’t he call me?” you asked.
He didn’t tell me or Margo either, I just found out today.
“What! I bet he told the golden boy though didn’t he?”
Yeah. He knew. Dad told me he thought he told everyone.
“He ‘thought’ he told everyone??.. he’s soooo full of shit!! telling your fkn CHILDREN that u have cancer isn’t something you “think” you did. YOU TELL ALL OF THEM. Fkn goof!! Wow. I don’t have the energy 2 b hurt by him anymore, Toni. I have enough shit in life 2 deal with.”
I know. I’m sorry. I felt you should know. Fk hey?
January 28, 2016
I texted you today.
I’m tired of not seeing you. You called and we had a long talk about my book and your roommate. You called me a meathead! Because I forgot you don’t drink my red wine. White box only! You sent me ten silly pictures and again you made me laugh. I miss your face kid. Come see me.
January 29, 2016
Billy called me at seven this morning. “Toni, I have bad news.”
He told me you went in to the hospital late last night. You told him and the doctor that you will not go on the ventilator. No intubation. The doctor said you won’t make it through the day. He told me that Mom is already on her way. Come on… really? It can’t be that serious right? We’ve been here before and you always pull through it. You’re a fighter.
I got dressed and came immediately to the hospital, but I called family members first like Billy had asked me to. Ally is in Edmonton, Bob in Fort St, John. They’re both coming. I still can’t believe I’m doing this. I think they’re wasting their time coming, you’ll be fine, right? I pack the Christmas present I had waiting for you.
I arrived at the hospital to see Billy in tears. He loves you so much. He has stuck by you for so long. I am thankful for him.
Oh Goobie, you look like hell. You smiled at me and though you can’t talk very well. You told me you love me. “Babygirl,” I told you, “I love you too.”
The doctor came in and he spoke directly to me.
“She’s made it very clear that she does not want to be intubated. It’s the only thing that will save her, and by her presentation it’s probably too late now anyway. All we can do is make her comfortable at this point. It will be a matter of a couple hours.”
He also called Mom. She’s your second in command. She knows your wishes Patti, and she also refused the doctor when he asked if he could intubate you. I know this decision to do as you asked, was the hardest thing she’s ever done. How do you give consent to let your child die?
I held your hand again today.
I brushed back your hair and wiped your brow as you struggled to breathe. You kept trying to find a comfortable position. I crawled into the bed to help you sit up and you fought hard to try to find a position to breathe easier. You won’t find it Kiddo. Your lungs are filling and unable to process oxygen. I pull out the Christmas present I brought for you and I opened it and went though the pictures and described them to you, because you don’t open your eyes now. It’s an album of our family. I cried.
I felt desperation today.
Oh God, Patti… Mom missed her flight. She begged me to tell you to hold on until she can get here. I did, I told you that you need to hold on little sister, did you hear me? You aren’t talking anymore.
Margo arrived. We sit with you and cry, laugh with memories and comfort each other. This is really it? You’re leaving me?
The nurses have been calling you Patsie. “Oh wow.” Margo said, “You don’t want to call her that. She likes Patti.”
“Yep,” I said. “You keep calling her Patsie and she will come out of this and strangle you.” Laughter rang out through your room and for a moment it didn’t feel like you were laying there unable to join in with the family antics.
Lexi arrived. Dad and Kathy too. Lacie called me, she’s on her way with little Harlowe. There’s a few of us here now, your nieces and nephews included. You are so loved. I know you never felt that, but you are. I know you have no doubts now.
Mom has boarded another flight and she’s waiting on a layover in Edmonton. Hold on Patti. Mom will be here soon.
They’re moving you to another room in Emergency. A quiet, more private area where we can all sit around you and love you. The nurses are so good to us. They know we are all in pain. The grief is palpable, it’s a heavy weight in this room. I feel it… a complete grief as I look at the faces around me and I see memories flowing through their minds. I see distant smiles and some tears. You have no idea how much we love you. Bob is here. He looks uncomfortable in his own skin. He doesn’t handle this well despite his acting so cool, so tough.
Margo laughed through her tears and said. “She can’t go yet, I have a fridge full of leftovers.” The room burst out in laughter as we recall your penchant for food when you visited any of us. I’ve had you clean out my fridge many times; chowing down on anything you could find. I giggled at those memories.
God I’m missing you, Kid. Cut this crap out. Sit up and tell me it’s all just a big joke. I will laugh. I promise.
Your breathing is so laboured now. You can’t get oxygen. They keep you comfortable with meds that allow you to breathe as best as you can. Mom texted, she’s at the Grande Prairie airport early. Bob has gone to get her, I think he was relieved to go. He is not as tough as he acts. I leaned over and told you in your ear that Mom was only five minutes away. You heard me. I see you begin to move and you start trying to speak. We all hear you Patti. You’re trying to say “ma, ma, ma,” so quietly and I hear your heart speaking. You waited for her…. You held on for her. I know that you’re tired, and weary, but hold on Patti, she’s coming.
The Reverend came in to pray with us. He asked you if you wanted prayer and you made it known you did. We all held hands and in a moment the love was heavy and clear. The angels await you now.
She’s here! Patti, she’s here. We all left the room so she could be with you alone for a bit. You need to say your goodbyes.
We all came back in and Mom crawled into the bed with you. We propped you up and Mom cried as she held you. I watched on and wiped the beads of sweat off your brow and your lip. Your skin is so soft and warm. I just love you Patti. That’s all. Love you.
3:56 pm January 29, 2016
I let you go today.
You left me.
I watched you breathe your last ragged breath as Mom wrapped you up in arms of love. She sobbed as she held you, Dad held your hand and cried softly. Your family loves you so much Patti. We surrounded you with love. Your transition was one of peace and we sent you to be with the stars, in Love. You’ve crossed the Rainbow Bridge.
You became free today.
You left the shell of a body that held you captive. You’re free floating with Papa and Chico. I wonder if Grampa Beezer was there to greet you, and Aunty Sandra and Uncle Skip. Cuddle Clarity for me too if you see her; tell her I love her please.
Lacie commented as we gazed upon your peaceful face. “She’s still so beautiful.” I think I cried the hardest then.
I know you are happy now and I know you’re ok. I know you’re free from addiction and the damage done to you is healed. You’re free Babygirl. I’m comforted in the knowledge that when I cross the Rainbow Bridge, the first person to meet me will be you. So now…
I’m no longer waiting, Patti.
Now I’m no longer going to see your face. I’m no longer going to get any more silly texts. I’m so sad Patti, but believe I will feel you here with me. I know you watch over the kids and I. I know you will watch over that big old dog too. Trucker will come here to live with us like you asked. That dog loves Crunch and Crunch loves him back. We will watch over him until he comes to be with you. Billy can’t bear to part with him yet and he will keep him for a few more days, then bring him to his new home.
We will have a family gathering at Bob’s on Sunday. I know you will be there. I know you will float around us, and sneak soft kisses on every forehead. Noogies too I imagine. I hear your voice…
“I’ll see you when I’m looking at ya.”
The sum of my parts is missing a portion. There’s forever a little empty space in my heart. I wait to have you fill it again when I come there to see you. For now, I know that it’s your turn.
You are there.
I love you Sissy. Godspeed.
January 28, 2017
It’s been a year, Patti. The firsts have come and gone… all except for tomorrow. It’s gonna be a tough one.
The family cries, and tomorrow will be their day to reflect; remember. Not me. I think of today as MY day with you, because it was a year ago on this day that we really talked for the first time in a while. We chatted for an hour about so many things. You spent time with me. You took time to be with just me. I cherish today.
Today I see my life in utter ruin and turmoil. I have no idea where I’m going to be in two weeks. I’d give anything to be able to call you Patti. Anything.
January 28, 2018
God, I miss you so much today. It’s been a hell of a ride.
There are firsts even in the second year I’ve found. Days where I’d give anything to just be able to call you and say “Goob! Guess what!”
Its been a big year. You missed Crunch graduate into high school. Ally graduated from her course too. Chase got engaged. Margo is back working. Bob took a new job. So many things I want to share.
Me… for all intents and purposes, I lit a match and burned my life to the ground. I packed up and drove away thinking I’d never be back. Lol.
I’ve done so many amazing things this year and I’m so happy now. I would give anything to see your face, even just one more time. I know you would be so proud of me. Though I haven’t written since you left, I did start drawing again. I drew you. As I sketched your face I felt healing. I found some of my peace.
I hope you have too.
I love you so much little sister.
January 29, 2019
I know you see me. I know you see my struggles and my victories. I’m working in the oilfield still and for the crazy money I sacrifice time with Crunch. I’m getting my debt paid off so I can go back to school. I got accepted into the nursing program in Kamloops. I’m not sure how it’ll work out but it’s a big start.
I’m happy kiddo.
We lost Don and Gramma June down here. I can imagine the hugs you gave Dad when he arrived on the rainbow bridge.
January 29, 2020
I’m having a rough go today.
I’ve been lost in memories of you the last couple days. It’s hard to concentrate on school. Yes, I did it Patti. I’m in nursing school. My marks are all in the high 80’s and 90’s. I frigging hate the fact that I can’t just call you and tell you. I’m going to be a nurse!
Mom left. She sold our Heaven and moved back up north. I can’t even talk about it. I have a lot of bad days when I need her but I’ve withdrawn from her. Can’t even.
Crunch leaves tomorrow for up north too. It’s a sound decision for his future, but I’m scared and sad. I’ll be alone. I came down here for family and they’ve all left. I’m feeling sorry for myself. 😂
More firsts have happened. Joel had a baby boy. He’s adorable. Chase got married. Dallas has Sophia now and Lexi is training horses.
I hit a horse on the road in August. Of all things a horse. It died and I feel horrible for that. I know you get that because your love for horses was as deep as mine. Totalled my car and I’m having some issues. I’m getting migraines that knock me off my feet and I’m under that care of a cardiologist now. Fun.
Patti, above all I wish I could call you. Instead I write these silly updates knowing full well your eyes don’t see them. I talk to you when I need you and I know your ears don’t hear my voice. So here I am getting ready to go to school and tears are sneaking out of my eyes. There’s so much love in my heart for you, but there’s nowhere for it to go but down my cheeks.
People say time heals all things. They lie. It doesn’t.
Because when you flit into my mind the tears flow as easily as they did the day I lost you.
Rest easy Sissy.
I love you and miss you so much.