I have a sister who has been absent from the family for several years. No one has heard from her for a very long time.
My sister has schizophrenia.
Since my Dad died a month ago my family has been hoping she will show up or call. She hasn’t made any contact and my younger sister has gone to extraordinary lengths to locate her, short of hiring a private detective.
It amazes me how someone can disappear like that. No Manitoba Health card for over 5 years so no medical treatments in that time. She didn’t even have a card when we know she lived here for sure.
I feel so sad. Where could she be? I don’t want her to hide from us, to be afraid of us.
I remember going to see her at her old apartment about 3 years ago and knocking on her door and hearing her drag furniture and boxes away from her door. After being allowed to enter, seeing her Spartan ways overwhelmed me. She was scared, lonely and very, very ill. She couldn’t wait for me to leave and when I did, I heard all the boxes and furniture being barricaded on the other side of the door once again.
The last place she was known to live over 2 years ago the landlord said she snuck out of her apartment in the middle of the night, not taking much with her.
The fear. I can’t know the fear she must live with every day. All I know is the fear I have for her. She won’t have ID so if something should have happened to her we might never find out. No hospital stay information or death certificates would be available because no one will be able to know who she is.
This sister has become a ghost. I know she might not want to be found but now it’s not about estates and letting her know the news about our Dad. Now it’s about knowing she still lives, in whatever world she might find herself and hopefully still on the same earth as me.
Mental illness…another one allowed to slip through the cracks. I can’t blame anyone for that though. As her family we tried. Her illness was so frightening. I couldn’t even let my son drive her home at one time (for which he kindly volunteered) for fear of anything she might say he did or what she might do to him. Her actions and words struck terror in my gut many times. The medical community did their best short of locking her up for the rest of her life to make sure she took her meds. The one time she was on meds she was our sweet sister again but it didn’t last long. Now it must have been years since she’s even seen a doctor.
I remember her when I was a very little girl. I was very ill for the first few years of my life and still see her lovingly mothering me; taking me for walks in the carriage, scratching my back (which calmed me very much) and giving me treats. When kids bullied me in school later on she went out and had a T-shirt made for me that said “Marie Boomer – Superstar”. I wore that thing until the letters fell off. It made me feel like a superstar.
I’m trying really hard to remember the wonderful sister she could be. She left home when I was very young though and I rarely saw her until I was an adult again and her illness had progressed so much. It’s not easy to keep the good memories alive since there are so few of them but I will.
I just hope she knows we are still here for her.
Please come home Sue…