March 10th is Sue’s birthday. She is the oldest of the 4 of us Daly kids. She is smart, funny, gullible and incredibly generous.
Every year we celebrate her birthday by going out for ice cream.
We laugh, share tender stories
and like the three years before—we celebrate without her.
Sue died on July 27, 2007.
Alone in a hotel room, sad, scared and broken. My sister who protected me from getting involved with drugs, who paid my way to Young Life camp when I was in High School and who always believed in me – even when I did not, died isolated from love, laughter and freedom.
She died an addict.
Despite a 25 – year battle with drugs and alcohol, she finally succumbed to the demons that she wrestled with every day of her adult life.
My sister knew the Lord Jesus Christ as her savior. Her conversion and prayer of repentance was as sincere as her love for me.
She desired to turn her life over to more than just a higher power, but to surrender herself, her pain and her addiction to the one who knew and understood her.
She stayed sober for almost a year after inviting Christ to be the Lord of her life.
But eventually the demons came calling with all the familiar taunts and tests.
She was a tortured soul and her addiction played her like a broken record. They reminded her at every opportunity of her weakness, her failures and she believed the lie.
It was gut wrenching to watch the saga unfold in front of my eyes and to see this woman who had everything to live for become completely enslaved to her addiction.
The late night phone calls from jail came with sickening predictability.
Holidays, birthdays and special events were all tainted with intoxication and incarceration.
Watching someone you love self destruct is something that you carry with you for life. Sue was a registered nurse. She was kind, compassionate, smart and hard working. She also was a drug addict. Over time her addiction robbed her of her health, relationships, career and eventually her life.
This year I am struggling with her death. I miss her. I wish things could have been different. I wonder sometimes, Could I have done more for her? A redundant question, but I ask it anyway.
Why does the pain cut more deeply this year?
At church we are in the middle of a series on conflict. Last week the Pastor talked about resolution and the importance of having closure.
That was it. I was lacking closure. Sure we had a memorial service and we celebrated and remembered who Sue was, but I did not have closure with her.
Our last conversation took place two days before she died. Like so many times before, she was drunk and asked me to help her with something.
Trying my best to apply tough love skills, I firmly told her I could not speak to her when she was drunk, but would love to talk with her when she was sober—final words exchanged with a sister I loved.
Regret is a hard pill to swallow. I know there is nothing that I could have done to change her situation. I only wish my last words had been I love you.
So as I wrestle with my own demons of grief and regret, I want to encourage you to engage with your own. We all have things in our life that trip us up, try to steal our joy and rob us of the freedom we have in Christ. Whether your demons are drugs & alcohol, gambling, gossip, seeking approval, pornography or food I pray that you find the courage to address them and pursue a life of healing and recovery.
Grace, Peace & Recovery…Karen
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life
and have it to the full.
Here are some resources: