This is my big sister Bonnie. Actually, she wasn't that big, only 5'4". This was a photo taken by my youngest older sister, Debbie, this June. They went on a trip together after Bonnie completed a stay at the "Unie" detox clinic. I really want to get across the fact that my sister was making a strong effort to kick this thing. This is why this death comes as a great shock to me and my family.
Bonnie had struggled off and on with alcohol the past 20 years of her life. Mostly, she was just a functioning alcoholic, in that she really kept it hid and it didn't seem to hinder her much. Our family didn't even know about her struggle until after this Christmas. She spent years on the wagon, then would slip off, then get back on again for a long time. What made the difference this time was that she now had a gastric bypass that wouldn't allow her stomach to metabolize the alcohol. Essentially, the alcohol would go straight to her liver.
What triggered all of this was a boyfriend that got her back into drinking. This guy was no louse at all, it's just that I think that he and my sister had no idea the potential danger of her starting to drink again. After he left to go back East to where he worked it really was too much for my sister. She was also working hard, sixteen-hour days with a new federal judge with a heavy case load. Drinking is great fun if you are already happy and not alone. Drinking is quite the opposite when you are alone and trying to douse your depression. Add to that mix alcoholism and the other conditions and alcohol is downright diabolical.
Bonnie was a sweet person. She was always trying to keep me on the straight and narrow when I was growing up. I did not know of a more tender-hearted human on this earth. She struggled a great deal throughout her life with depression and with high expectations. Her intellect was incredible and her academic achievements were to match. Bonnie was an English Literature major at the University of Utah and graduated with honors. She worked for law firms, the state supreme courts, and the federal courts.
As I said earlier, my sister was very feeling. However, this sensitivity was also a great burden to her. She often felt bombarded with noise and light. Other people's idiosyncrasies would become unbearable for her. The problem was that she would feel an enormous amount of guilt over her becoming annoyed with others. The court cases that she was involved in haunted her a great deal. The images of child rape, child pornography, and murder cases were unwelcome guests in her mind. All she wanted to do was to assist in the justice system to see things put right.
Although Bonnie was beautiful and always had the attention of men, she felt very self conscious of her body. I think a great deal of women do. I had a hard time convincing her of how beautiful she was. When she wasn't drinking she struggled with eating disorders.
I always wished that there was someway that I could have waved a magic wand and made her struggles go away, but that is incredibly selfish thinking. She gained a lot from overcoming and dealing with those trials and I gained a lot of wisdom and love from trying to help, even though I never quite knew what I was doing. To wave a wand is to remove yourself, your emotion, and your toil--it is not being. A life without sacrifice is akin to the life a comfortable house pet.
Bonnie loved kids and wanted so much to be married and have a small family of her own. Recently, one of her goals that she made in rehab was to help give aide to children in Africa. On our last trip together to make her court appearance she kept saying that she was a "Freaking Rainbow" and then would proceed to hug me while I tried not to careen off of the highway going 80 miles an hour. We would all laugh about it after I had regained control of the car again. The best part was when she slipped up and said that she was a "Fucking Rainbow" and then said, "Sorry mom".
After rehab, she was happy to have a chance at life again and had many goals and plans to carry out. It was not to be, however.
I never knew how much pain a person could feel until I woke up Tuesday morning. My grief had grown exponentially from the previous night. I had no idea the physical pain, on top of all the other expected pain, I would feel from this loss. This morning was a bit better, but I still had the "sledgehammer" of grief feeling in my gut. My heart is heavy and I spend a lot of time wondering why. I am really sad that she was alone when she died and that I wasn't there to do something before it happened. I am also sad that I will not be able to see her body, as it was not presentable for viewing. I have no doubts that she is happy now and in a good place. It is just going to take me awhile to accept that in my heart and to overcome my grief.
4 years ago