Monday, December 14, 2009

O for Overwhelmed

This upcoming weekend, the first weekend of my break from school, is going to be ridiculously busy, and I’m not at all happy about it. I get overwhelmed when too much is going on at once, which is why I just hate this time of year, because it seems like I just can’t keep up no matter what I do. My parents have been divorced since I was five years old, so I’m used to having to split holidays; but other events, including marrying my husband a year and a few months ago, have exacerbated the holiday busyness. This Saturday is my dad’s family’s Christmas party, which is about a 45 minute drive from my house. The party starts at noon or one. Since it’s one of the few times a year that I get to see my dad and his extended family, and it’s important to my dad that I go, I have to go. So, Music Man and I will leave the house at about noon, get there at around one, stay an hour or two, and head home to let the dogs out and to relax for a bit before the evening event.

Saturday evening is a memorial bonfire for my youngest sister. On December 19, 2007, my nineteen year old sister was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. He strangled her to death with a ligature he made out of a shoelace, which we found out during his criminal trial meant that he had to spend at least two minutes squeezing the life out of her, because that’s how long it takes to kill someone by strangulation. Then, he dumped her body in the back seat of her car as though she were a bag of trash, left their nearly two year old son alone in his apartment, and abandoned the car in another city; oh, and for good measure, he set the car on fire. This is probably the biggest reason that I now hate this time of year.

I miss my sister terribly, and every time December 19 rolls around, it’s as though the event is happening all over again. I vividly remember the early morning phone call from my mother on December 20, 2007, and my inability to grasp what she was telling me because it was just too horrible. I remember numbly getting ready to go to my mom’s house, sobbing in the shower and thinking horrible thoughts that I just couldn’t stop: Did she know who killed her? Did she suffer? Did she beg for her life? Are they sure it’s her body? Maybe by the time I get to mom’s house, she’ll be there. Why? Why? WHY?!? I remember stopping at my brother’s house, because it was on the way to my mom’s house and no one had been able to reach him yet. I remember Music Man asking me on the way if I wanted him to talk to my twin brother, and I remember insisting that I had to be the one to tell him. I remember how I could barely speak as I tried to break the news to my brother; the words coming out in nothing more than a hoarse whisper. I remember my brother, Music Man, and I clinging together as we cried; perhaps trying to prevent our bodies from doing what our hearts already were: splitting into a million pieces. Every year, the wound that seems to have barely begun to heal is torn open again, and the only difference is that I don’t have the media in my face this time around (I was the family spokesperson to the media.), and we don’t have to plan a funeral again.

The fact that my sister’s murderer was eventually convicted of first degree murder (and found guilty of domestic violence murder, second degree murder, and tampering with a body) and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, doesn’t help me to feel any better. I don’t know that anything ever will, because no one or nothing can tell me why this happened; even if something or someone could, the answer wouldn’t be good enough. I look at my young nephew and just want to cry. He’s almost four now, which means he has been without his mommy for two years; the only way he’ll know her is through pictures and our stories, many of which he’ll hear at the annual bonfire we have in her honor. Needless to say, I cannot—I will not—miss this event. After a couple of hours outside in the snow and cold (this is Minnesota after all) reminiscing about my sister with family and her friends and talking about how much I miss her, I will go home physically and emotionally exhausted. However, the dogs will still need to be cared for and played with, especially after being kenneled almost all day, and I’ll need to try to get some holiday baking done, because I don’t know when else I’ll have the time to do it.

Sunday we are joining my husband’s family at his 93 year old grandma’s nursing home to celebrate Christmas with her. Since this is grandma’s first Christmas in the nursing home, and it will probably be her last Christmas, according to my mother-in-law anyway, we have to go. After a couple hours, we’ll leave to finish our Christmas shopping. Hopefully the shopping crowds won’t be too horrible on a Sunday evening, and we’ll be able to get it done quickly. Once we finally get home, I’ll probably try to finish up more baking, depending on the time of course. When I finally get to bed, I’ll be completely and utterly exhausted and not at all ready to start another week at work, even if it is a short one. I will probably bake every night next week in order to have cookies to bring to my in-laws for Christmas Eve and to my mom's for Christmas day.

As I now read back over what I’ve written, I feel like a total bitch. Christmas was one of my sister’s favorite holidays, and she always loved gatherings. She’d give anything to be here, involved in all the celebrating and busyness. And yet, all I can do is bitch about it. I will try to remember this as the weekend approaches and the crazy schedule begins, and I will try to appreciate that I am alive to experience the absolute exhaustion that will inevitably result from it all.


  1. This is my first time here. I think the whole world gets the holiday blues at some point so don't feel like a bitch. Guilt just makes it worse.
    While your post gave me empathic stomach pains you write beautifully. I am now a follower.

  2. I can't even imagine the pain that your family has gone through as a result of this. I truly have no words(rare for me).

    Your nephew is blessed to have family who will share the memory of his mom with him, though.

  3. I definitely don't think you need to feel like a bitch. Maybe one day it'll be easier to remember how much she loved the holiday instead of how much it still hurts. But you have every reason to be sad.

    You write absolutely beautifully.


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