The night my sister died, I was alone. Sully was out having drinks with his best friend Pete. I called him several times, but he didn’t answer, so I called Pete and soon Sully was on his way.
I had seen my sister just a few days before when I flew back for Easter. At that time she had asked me rather earnestly to let her join me out in Denver. I had said no, that this was my time to get myself together. I was going through my divorce, learning how to be me again, and I wasn’t ready to share yet.
Now I was desperately wishing I had said yes, realizing that even that probably wouldn’t have stopped her from dying. But the guilt was overwhelming. So was the aloneness. Looking out the bedroom window between the concrete buildings, wishing Sully would get there faster, it started to snow.
Normally, snow might indicate peace and calm. But for me, snow meant complications in flying from Denver to Boston – one more way that I wouldn’t get where I needed to be. Then Sully finally arrived.
I cried while he held me, but it wasn’t enough. I needed to feel closer and closer, to be enveloped in something bigger than me and my pain. I kissed him hungrily and drew him over to my bed. He looked at me and said, “Are you sure?” and I just nodded and whispered “Please.”
Tears and kisses and caresses and pain all tumbled in to one and I clung to him like a drowning man clings to a jagged rock. The waves of emotion that swept over me and clawed at me made me hold on tighter. I didn’t want to think or feel anything but that moment and just find escape.
When we finished, I could breathe again. The pain was still there, but I could face it now.
Sometimes, it’s not about having sex or making love. It’s about feeling connected to the world again. About not feeling out on the ledge by yourself. I’ll always be grateful to Sully for giving that connection back to me.
The days, weeks and months after my sister’s death brought me to one of the darkest times in my life. I lost my sister, then my job, then my home, then my boyfriend. I hit rock bottom and had to crawl my way back up.
But I survived because of the people who stood by me no matter what – that sometimes understood that words were too much, that sympathy was not enough. Sometimes you just have to hold on tight.