April 15th Isn’t Just Tax Day

Renee wedding cropped

A year can pass so quickly

And painfully slowly all at once.

Some do without much ado

While others are filled to the brim

With much you never saw coming

And wish you hadn’t.

A year ago it was bright and sunny

With the ocean as a back drop

And a smiling, beaming family

Gathered to celebrate

The union of love

In front of the ocean

With our feet in the sand.


We were so joyous that day

Full of the hope and dreams

Of the years to come.

My sister had battled her disease

For nearly five years

With much success

Extending her life

Gracing us with her presence.

Leaving no stone unturned,

She was now headed

To Mexico in the morning.

And though I begged her to keep her money

Away from the charlatans

And even more to hold tight

Onto what good health she had,

She’d become angry

When I challenged

And annoyed when I pleaded.

So I gave in and “supported” instead.

I suppose I will always regret that

And yet I know it was a battle

I could never have won.


It is so odd to me

That we never know

Which days are turning points.

I kind of wish

There was a certain alarm

That would sound loud and clear

With warnings of

“Hey, after today your life

will never be the same again.”


But our lives seemed the same

After the joy of that day

When Easter morning followed the next day

Along with the birthday

Of my third eldest son.

There was a lot to celebrate that weekend

And we were loving every minute

Feeling as if joy had arrived to stay.


To further bond their love,

The bride and groom announced

The baby-to-be

Just a few weeks later.

And I remember feeling as if

Nothing could ever be wrong again

Because this was so blissfully right!


My sister returned four weeks later

And would never be the same again,

As they’d whittled her down

To bare bones

Mostly made of juices,

Coffee enemas

And enough supplements

To correct the vitamin deficiencies

Of an entire developing country.

It was not good.

She was not good.

But we followed her wishes

And dammit we juiced

And when we were done,

Her daughter and I

Would juice some more.

Until she became so depleted

That she needed the blood of another

To keep her alive.

We cried together

And we laughed too,

But never could a finger

Be pointed at the Snake Oil.

Mexican salesmen dressed

In white doctor coats,

Because on some level,

She still believed in them

And I guess she needed to.

What we didn’t know then,

Was that the count down had begun.

And there were only about eight months left

Before there were no stones left

To unturn.


And the marriage that was made

Would have only seven months to

Remain shiny and new,

Gaining very little terra firma

On which to stand and remain grounded.

He would be handcuffed

And taken to jail.

She was terrorized by police

While her third trimester

Became a tornado of fear,

Worry and Cortisol.

All of our lives

Would dissolve into a valley of tears

Most especially on the day

The beloved baby was born

With his loving dad in absentia,

Tortured missing the moment

He’d dreamed of forever.

And baby’s mom a solo warrior

Stood up and birthed that new soul.

Our sadness and frustration

Is never ending and we wait

And then we wait some more

But no one waits as much as he does.

We wait for what we dread or dream of

and we pray for kindness,

and understanding of

the heart of this good

and loving man.

But we know nothing else to do

But wait.


So let me just mention this

Though you may not know what to say

And you might be trying hard

To distract us

Or worse, “cheer us up”

Please don’t.

This is on our minds

Most every minute of every day

Except for the few hours here and there

When we finally give into exhaustion,

Close our eyes and try to sleep

Which sometimes works

And sometimes doesn’t.

I have taken to falling to my knees

Now before I sleep

Because it seems a more appropriate way

To beg for mercy and miracles.


I know you want us back to who we were.

You liked us a lot better that way.

But we’re just not those people any more.

So if you feel that you can’t ask us

About how we are,

Or how our incarcerated son is,

Or even how it feels to

No longer have a sister,

Perhaps you’re just not ready

To be around us at all.
I know it is hard to bear witness this way,

But well, I’d choose bearing witness any day

Over living in the center of hell.

Be brave, try and talk to us about it all.

It is a gift to be given at a small cost to you,

But deeply appreciated.






  1. Jane S · April 20

    When you an bear to come to Wilmington again, please let me know. We never did go out for coffee…..Love to all of you, Jane

  2. Ann Conlon-Smith · April 25

    Would love that… yes, a lot of plans that week never did come to fruition. I have not been back to Wilmington since, but someday…. If you come to Raleigh, same applies. Love to you Jane

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