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August 2009
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October 2009

September 2009

For Lizza

Johnny and Lizza

 Last Thursday, our sweet sister in law Lizza, my brother's wife, lost her life to suicide.  Nothing can  make sense of what has happened.  We knew she was sad.  We knew that she was being treated for depression.  We loved her and yet we couldn't help her find her way out of the darkness.

Lizza was a teacher, a Mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister and a friend.  We misunderstood the times  she pushed us away.  In trying to respect her desire for distance and her search for clarity, we missed the signs.  We believed she was "passionate", "eccentric", "quirky", "obsessive", "compulsive" and "beautiful".  We never imagined that she was suffering from an invisible destroyer.

Lizza and Johnny, my brother, were high school sweethearts.   As life often demands... they parted ways, married others, had children, families and divorce.  Five years ago they found each other again.  Everyone who loves them, believed they were the fairy tale come true and wanted them to live happily ever after.  For a time, they were.  For a time, they loved and laughed and worked at blending families.

Last year Lizza and her children moved into a place of their own.  Of course there was blame and guilt and sadness and we all hoped time apart would allow everyone the opportunity to rediscover what was important. Time to ease the conflicts and embrace the love that had brought them back together through time.

It appears that time ran out.  I suppose I needed to share all of the "details" because Lizza is one of so many "normal, happy, driven, hopeful" individuals who lose their way in the chaos of living. 

Doctors couldn't restore her hope.  Her family, parents, siblings, husband, children, friends.... couldn't reach her in a way that gave her the courage to commit to life.  Of course, she loved us all.  Of course she wanted to embrace life with all of the joy she had always bestowed on us, but something happened.

Mental, emotional illness is insidious.  It sneaks up on us and invisibly undermines our ability to see clearly.  Physical disease can at least be seen... found and recognized and treated.  We don't always win the battle with disease but at least we can identify our foe... with Lizza, the invader was invisible and easily disguised.  We missed it and now we miss her.

Her light was bright in life and will be brighter now that she is free.  My heart aches for all that we will miss with her, but she will miss nothing.  She will be at every birthday celebration, at every graduation and wedding, at every birth and "rebirth".  Being human... that is only consolation on the good days.  In these early days of our grief... they are mere words.  I know that Shannon was there to meet Lizza.  They didn't get to meet in life so they have lots of catching up to do, and Shannon will make sure that she feels all of our love.  Of that I am certain, even from my own sadness at missing them both so much.

We made bookmarks for Lizza.  I once again borrowed from the tender wisdom of one of my favorite writers (and incredible musician...) Beth Nielsen Chapman.  Beth lost her husband to cancer early in their marriage and many of her songs reflect her own feelings of love and loss.  In "Touch My Heart" Beth expressed what we all feel for Lizza.

There are songs I love that catch my breath
When the first chord starts to play
Effortless and true, it's funny but I knew
You would always touch my heart that way

And it hurts so much to let you go
And there are no words to say
But the corner of your smile says all I need to know
You could always touch my heart that way

Sail on my love, life is only a blink in time
Go on and show all those stars what it means to shine

Like a fire that spins inside a spark
As the ashes cool to grey
Kicked up by the wind, dancing through the dark
You will always touch my heart that way

Sail on my sweet love, this world is a blink in time
Go on and show all those stars what it means to shine

And I know your love is here with me
I can feel you every day
Even if the beauty of your face I cannot see
Only you could touch my heart that way
You can always touch my heart that way

She will always touch our hearts that way.  We think we have forever, and allow those we love the most to get what's left of us after we've met the world's expectations.  From this moment forward, in celebration of Lizza and Shannon and Maw Maw and Bob and all of the other Angels who continue to fill my heart... I will give the best of me to the ones I love first and the world will have to settle for  what's left.  We have this moment... what more could we ask for!