Thursday, February 28, 2013

How Dare You

Hey Kel,

I had a major meltdown on my way home from work tonight. I mean snot dripping, mascara in my eyeballs, pull the car over to the side of the road before I kill myself trying to drive kind of meltdown. I actually had a pretty decent day until the drive home. I suppose being in the car, having a moment of quiet where I could finally think had something to do with it. Anyway, as I was driving home, I realized it was eleven years ago today that mom died. One minute my mind was racing with work crap and the next minute I’m reliving mom’s last breath. So, I did what I have always done in times like this. I reached over and grabbed my cell ready to hit “Kelly”. As soon as the phone was in my hand and I realized what I was about to do, I came unglued. I’m so tired of this dead sister thing and it hasn’t even been one month yet. How am I going to survive this?

I wonder about so many things? Are you with mom and dad? You were always saying to me how you just wanted to go be with them. Remember how much that pissed me off? Sometimes I thought that was why you said it and other times I thought you really meant it. Most of the time, I knew you really meant it. That’s why I got so pissed with you. It scared me. I didn’t want you to want them more than me. I desperately wanted you to want to stay.

The night you died, I was so angry that you waited for me to leave the room before dying. After you were gone and the nurse said you probably needed Char and I to go before you could leave, I wanted to throat-punch her right there on the spot. I didn’t want to believe that. I still don’t. I thought about the last two days I spent with you. I thought about all the things I had whispered in your ear. How many times did I tell you not to worry, that I would look out for David and all your animals? I told you everything would be okay, that it was fine for you to go. I mean seriously, Kel, how many people have I walked this road with before? Sisi, Mom, Dad, Lucy and Uncle Lou. I did the hospice training thing, read the books, took the classes, watched the videos. I get it. I know what to say and I said it to each and every one of you. I did my best to walk each of you eternally home. I wanted to be there. Every time.

Then tonight I had a thought. Maybe, when we come to the end of our lives, we don’t just hear the spoken word. Maybe, just maybe, we hear the words people’s hearts are holding. If that’s true then you needing me gone before you could die would make sense, I suppose, because I remember the words of my heart oh so well.

For two days, my lips told you to go and be well with mom and dad. For two days, my heart screamed, “Don’t leave me!” That’s it, isn’t it? You heard the cry of my heart. I think I knew it all along.

Can you still hear it?
                                                I love you,


Monday, February 25, 2013

C'Mon Stink

Hey Kel,

 Have you been wondering where I’ve been? I went to Texas for a few days. I needed to get away from work and family and friends. I needed to get away from you. But you followed me. Driving south through Oklahoma, I thought I had outrun you. There was no crying, no remembering and no stomachache. Then I crossed the border into Texas and it all came slamming back as if I had just driven straight into a brick wall. What was I thinking running to Texas to get away from you? How could I forget all those trips south to meet you in Houston? The days, weeks, months spent with you at MDAnderson? Why wasn’t I thinking before I left? I could have prepared myself, right?

Anyway, I met Lori there. We spent the weekend visiting her family, crying, praying, cussing and drinking. Oh yeah, it was real spiritual. No, it really was. It was just what I needed. Being with someone else whose own grief seemed to match mine was terrifying and yet it somehow helped me. Isn’t that strange?

The first night there, I dreamt about you. It was late and Lori and I had had a few too many drinks, cried late into the night and fell into the sleep of the dead. Literally. I thought I was walking through a zoo looking for something and suddenly there you were. You had that same hideous hospital gown on and you were barefoot. Your hair was long and blonde like when we were kids and you were smiling. Not just a smile. You were grinning from ear to ear, almost laughing when you saw me. You put your arms out and I ran to you. I held you so tight I was afraid I might hurt you but you just kept giggling. I wasn’t laughing though. I was crying. My heart was breaking into a million pieces and I could feel each jagged little piece falling around my feet. All of a sudden you pointed and told me to look across the walkway. When I turned, I saw the tiniest baby skunks. I ran over to get one because you and I always said we wanted a baby skunk. When I turned back to ask you to help me catch one, you were gone and I immediately woke up. You’re still gone.

 Lori gave me a wonderful book to read. It’s called Tear Soup. It brought me to tears, had me smiling here and there and gave me hope that I am not going insane. One thing it said was that people can really only handle about one month of another person’s grief. You have been dead twenty days. That means I have ten days left before people get sick of me and my dead sister.

 Sucks to be them.

                                     I miss you,

PS......This stinks to high heaven. Is that what you were trying to tell me?



Thursday, February 21, 2013

See's The Day

Hey Kel,


I had to work really late tonight. Remember, Wednesday is inventory. Normally I have it done before 3:00 pm but not today. It was 11:00 pm before we finished. Guess why? I had to fire two more people on Monday. So now I am down a total of three and trying to run a business with half a crew. Can you believe that? Man, there was so much drama over these last few days that all I could think about was how much I wanted to call you. No matter how crappy you felt or how ticked off I was, we always had such a great time talking over the day on my way home each night. I keep thinking about all my snarky remarks I would make and how you would laugh and say how much better you felt after we talked. How I miss that. How I miss you. Why did you have to go?


I almost made it through a day without crying. Almost. Brian, my old boss, called me today. I knew he had heard about you dying, so I was surprised when he didn’t call me. Then I heard it hurt his feelings that I hadn’t called him. There are so many people I haven’t called that I should have. I just can’t. Not now. I’m not sure if I will ever be able to call anyone again. I have no desire to see or speak to almost anyone. Anyway, the moment I heard Brian’s voice, I started to blubber. He kept asking me if I was okay and I kept saying I was great. What a couple of idiots. I mean, seriously. Did he think I would be okay? Um, no! Am I doing great? Definitely not! Whatever. He did make me promise to call him and stay in touch. That was nice of him, yeah?


Guess what? I got home at midnight and was beat to a pulp, just wanting to go to bed. Andrew and Tori are here for ten days, so instead of going straight to my room, we sat in the living room by the fireplace and talked. I can see why you love Tori so much. All during your dying, death and funeral, she took care of me. She would hold my hand, hug me when I cried, bring food to the room and just watch over me in general. At the cemetery, she literally had one arm around me and the other held an umbrella over my head protecting me from the rain. How sweet she is. I love this girl. You were right when you told me one day something would bond us together. I should have known it would have something to do with you.


Hey, this was kind of funny in a sick and twisted way. Right before they lowered you into the earth, they brought out a bucket of dirt. Everyone was supposed to take a handful and throw it on you. I stood way back, horrified at the entire thing. You know how I hate going to the cemetery in the first place since mom died. Remember how you and Char would get so mad because I refused to go put flowers on all our family graves? Yeah, get over it. Anyway, everyone is crying and taking handfuls of dirt and getting dirty and muddy in the rain throwing crap on you then they try to get me to join in. I let everyone know two things. First, you would have been appalled that they put dirt in a dirty old paint bucket instead of some fancy Coach bag kind of thing and second, I didn’t need to throw dirt on my dead sister. I had thrown enough dirt at you when you were breathing. Then, after the whole dirt saga has ended, the cemetery guy makes everyone step back before they lower you down. Why? Because, he kindly explains, they had a woman throw herself into the hole because she was so distressed. She broke a rib or something, the casket flew open and the dead guy fell out, blah, blah, blah. Then the gal files a lawsuit over her mental anguish from the entire thing and WINS! That’s not the funny part. Upon hearing said story, several of YOUR relatives turn and look at me. Excuse me! Like I would do that. Shut up.


One last thing. You know how you ruined my Valentine’s  Day this year? And you know how I said it would never be the same? Well, when I got home at midnight tonight and was sitting by the fire with Andrew and Tori, Bob brought a box out to me from UPS. It was from Amy. I opened it up and well, I haven’t cried that hard for at least a few hours.


I love that girl. I love her more than words will ever say. She gets me and she loves me. Who could ask for more?


It’s something you would do, hear somebody’s heart calling and answer. I miss you, Kelly. More each day. Isn’t it suppose to get easier?


                              No Chocolate for You!



Monday, February 18, 2013

Madre de Dios

Hey Kel,

I was thinking about the night you died all day today. It will be two weeks tomorrow since you left. Two long, miserable weeks. How can fourteen days feel like fourteen minutes and fourteen decades all at the same time? I am not understanding life at all right now. That's probably my own damn fault. I mean, I did break up with God the night you died so maybe I am just on my own until I find a way to repent. I sort of want to repent but I am just too angry right now. I'm pretty sure we will get back together someday. I do love Him. I am pretty sure He loves me too. I am just so sad.

I waited all day Monday by your bedside. I held your hand and stroked your forehead. Every time I found myself alone with you, I laid my head on your pillow and whispered in your ear. Did you hear me? Do you remember? I told you how much I loved you, how proud I was to have you for my baby sister. I said some things I had always wanted to tell you but had never found the courage to voice. Were you surprised to hear me say you had always been my closest friend, the one I admired and wanted to please the most. Did it make you happy to hear how much I loved you and how I had always wished I was more like you? Were you shocked that I wasn't always angry with all your constant butting in, that I needed you? I still need you.

With less than an hour of sleep on Monday, Tuesday arrived. That night Char and I went to your house to shower and change. The house felt so empty and cold. I looked around and everything looked the same but nothing felt the same. Nothing will ever feel the same again. We weren't there but fifteen minutes when the call came. Get back to the hospital now!

Within minutes we were there. It seemed as if we flew. I remember standing in the doorway, your room crowded with your besties and then the sea of friends slowly parted so I could walk in. Before I could get to you, Cher put her arms around me and said, "Mar, she's gone."

I just remember hearing some lunatic screaming and yet I didn't feel anything other than Cher's arms. I remember watching my purse fall to the ground in slow motion, feeling my knees buckle and realizing I was the lunatic.

Did I embarrass you when I laid on the bed, wrapped myself around you and begged you to stay with me? I know, I certainly felt embarrassed and yet I couldn't stop myself. It was as if I was watching a really bad Mexican novella. No bueno!

When the nurse tried to comfort me, I just felt worse. She told me she saw you “rally” every time Char and I were in the room. She said you were waiting for us to leave those few short moments so you could go. She said she sees people do it all the time because it’s too hard for them to leave sometimes with the people they love most in the room. I’m pretty sure that’s when I laid back on your bed and F-bombed you. I’m sorry for that. It just made me really angry that you didn’t want me there because I wanted to be there. I needed to be there. I’m just a jerk. Seriously, what kind of a person F-bombs their dead sister?

Then, when the anger and pain and loneliness was more than I could handle, I kissed your forehead repeatedly and left the room. I hurried to the elevator and quickly found my way out of that horrid place. Did you see me in the parking lot in crappy Salinas in the middle of the night? Did you hear me yelling at God?


Did you see the look on the faces of those nurses coming out of the parking garage? I know I scared them to death. I’ll be sorry for that someday too. Just not today.


I miss you, where’d you leave your drugs and can I have them,


PS……please tell God I’m sorry.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Anyone Hiring?

Hey Kel,

Well if things weren't bad enough with me having a dead sister and all, now it's affecting me at work. I hope you're happy.

In the last two days alone, I have come completely unglued at work. Did you see me? Were you watching, because I had this eery feeling you were standing there laughing like a hyena the whole time. Which, by the way, only made me madder at you. You are such a jerk sometimes, even when you're dead.

The first time it happened was when that one customer I always told you about called on Thursday. I mean, seriously, happy freakin Valentine's to me having to listen to hear screech about nothing. I am so sick of her calling just to complain and cuss. Normally, I can handle it with my usual amazing personality. Ok, so my sarcasm goes over her pea-brained head. Still, she never gets the best of me and you know that's the truth. Until Thursday. When she started in from the minute I answered the phone, well, I just couldn't take it. I started crying and yelling in the phone at her.

"Oh! My! Heavens! Poor you having to pay a debt that you owe and late no less and then having the nerve to scream at me the minute I pick up the phone. Well guess what? There are worse things in life than paying your bills on time. Things like your sister dying so I suggest you pay your bill and be done with this conversation before it goes any further south. Got it!!"

"Are you crying? Why are you crying"


The good thing is, she paid her bill. The bad thing is......oh hell, the only bad thing I can think of is I have a dead sister. But I just want you to know that I am almost sure I heard you laughing over in the corner as I sat there at my desk sobbing once I hung up the phone. Idiot.

Then tonight, when Ryan came in to pay his bill, I was trying so hard to help him. He is such a nice kid and we get along so well. Why did Alison Krauss have to start singing right at that moment? There was something in her voice that reminded me of you. Not that you could sing like Alison Krauss but still, there you were again. I heard it, looked up from the computer at Ryan and said, "My sister died last week." Then I fell completely apart. The harder I tried to stop crying the harder I cried. Then Ryan started crying and came behind the counter to hug me.

It may be time to find another job.

                                                             I miss you, stupid,


Thursday, February 14, 2013


Hey Kel,

Did you forget it was Valentine's Day? I wish I could have. I thought about all the years past with you in them. Do you remember how we had the same routine for what seemed like forever? Every stinking Valentine's Day for the last thirty plus years, a ridiculously large box would arrive. It would be filled with more candy than a small nation could produce. Oh, and need I mention how everytime we added another kid or grandkid to our brood, the box would miraculously grow larger. It was Jesus with the fish and loaves all over again.

Then there was the same stupid phone call every year.

"Kelly, why did you send so much candy? We don't need all this candy, you idiot."

"Hey, nobody said it was for you, tubby."

Yeah, we really loved each other. Anyone listening could tell, right? I waited all day for that box to show up. I cried when it didn't. I got angry at you for being dead. I mean, at least you could have anticipated being my dead sister and set up Valentine's day boxes to arrive like clockwork for the next thirty years. That way I could keep pretending you aren't gone. But you are gone, aren't you?

I drove home from work today and thought about your laugh. I thought about how I could make you laugh so hard you held your nose and threw your head to one side. I laugh the same way when I think something is really funny. Did you ever notice that about me? I think I just realized it.

You would be so proud of Bob. He did everything possible to make today special for me. I know he is trying so hard to help me feel better but I catch him crying a lot lately. You broke his heart too, ya know. You were the only one that called him Boobala. Who will call him that now? That meant something to him. Do you think I will pick up where you left off? Well, I wont! I can't even say Boobala without crying. I mean, seriously Kel, what kind of legacy have you left us? Crying over missed Valentines and stupid nicknames.

I called David tonight on my drive home. Remember how I called you most nights driving home? I so desperately wanted to dial your cell phone, hear your voice and really allow myself to feel the misery I 've shoved deep down in my gut. But I was afraid David would answer and be upset that his lunatic sister-in-law is trying to contact her dead sister by cell phone. So, I just called David instead.

"Happy Valentine's Day David. This sucks!"

"Yeah, it really does."

Then, believe it or not we went on to have a really nice conversation. One I am not going to tell you about because you are dead and I am mad at you. But it was good and you would have wanted to be there for it.

Please don't be dead much longer. This is not working for me.



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

There Once Was A Girl

Hey Kel,

You died one week ago today. One week. How can this be when it feels like only seconds have passed? I gave your eulogy. I said something funny and made people laugh just like you asked me too. Do you have any idea how hard that was? I think you probably do. It was you getting the last laugh on me, wasn’t it? It took me days to write and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. I finally deleted the whole damn thing the night before your funeral and went to Cayucos Tavern at midnight. I drank way too much and sang Rolling Stones songs way too loud. Can you believe that? Me, getting soused until 2a.m. and making a fool of myself in public. How unlike me, right?  The next morning, I sat in bed and wrote, bawling my head off the entire time. Did you hear me yelling at you? How could you be so selfish and leave me? How could I be so selfish and want you to stay?

Anyway, here it is. I mean, just in case you missed it.

The first time I met Kelly, she was 10 days old and I was 1100 days old and Char was just old. My mom came home from the hospital carrying this pink blanket that she laid on her bed and I thought surely I was finally getting that monkey I wanted. I remember lying on my parent’s bed, disappointed for a moment that she wasn’t a monkey but kissing Kelly’s forehead again and again, smelling the sweetness of her skin. She smelled like sugar cookies to me.


I loved my baby sister. We had the best times together. Like the first time our mom left us home alone and Kelly and I decided to build a fort in the living room. The living room we weren’t allowed to play in because it was reserved for company. The living room with the brand new Mediterranean, putrid green furniture. The living room with the giant naked angel lamp. Yeah, that living room. As soon as our mother’s car was half way out the drive, Kel and I ran to the garage and got a can of my dad’s infamous twist and tie. Back in the house we strung that miraculous twirly green wired string from the giant bulbous putrid green Mediterranean lamp on one side of the room all the way over to the giant naked angel lamp on the other side of the room. Then off we ran to our bedroom, grabbed our bedspreads off our beds and flew to the living room squealing with anticipation. This was gonna be freakin awesome. As we flung our bedspreads over the twist and tie, the two lamps hurled themselves at us at something like a million miles an hour. I’m pretty sure I heard the angel screaming.


As teenagers, Kelly and I went different directions. My life goal was to get married and quickly over-populate the world. Kelly’s goal was to rule the world. She started at KFC and ended up in one of Corporate America’s corner offices. It was downright freaky watching her morph into our dad, Charles Casas.  I mean she had the business suits, the Cadillac and minions. I remember her boss buying her a black leather jacket one Christmas. It was beautiful. I especially liked the writing on the back of it: The Wicked Witch. It’s what I had called Kelly for years. I felt jealous many a day at her life. I still didn’t have a monkey and she had flying monkeys. The truth was, those monkeys loved her. I think a lot of them idolized her. She deserved everything she achieved. She did it the old fashioned way. She earned it.


As adults, Kelly and I drifted apart for a minute. We didn’t understand each other very well. Then the first brain tumor happened and nothing else mattered. Our differences didn’t matter, our life choices didn’t matter, our faith or lack thereof didn’t matter. Only one thing mattered. We were in it to win it. Together. Kelly and every single person she loved and who loved her. We were in it to win it.


For years I wrote about Kelly’s journey. Some people were amused. Some people were offended. I was told more than once that I was inappropriate, disrespectful and rude. I made fun of my dying sister’s circumstances. She was the butt of my jokes. I posted pictures of her with really bad hospital hair. I put our private conversations out there for the world to read. There was only one reader I ever wrote for though. Kelly. She told me from the beginning I was not allowed to cry. Too many people were crying over her life and it made her sad. She asked me to write about her life. She told me I had to be funny. The best days ever for me were hearing Kelly laugh. That and hearing her call me a moron. Moron meant I had hit a home run for her. Like not that long ago, she was really sad. And she was worried about me. She asked me where I saw myself in ten years if I didn’t make some changes.


“Well, Kel, ten years from now I believe I will be in the poor house, jail or a convent. It’s hard to decide which way to go.”


That got a “moron” from her.


Kelly’s last words to me were, “Say something funny.” She said it twice so I made fun of her hair. Yeah, right there in the hospital as my sister lay dying, I made fun of her. A few nights after Kelly was gone, I realized she was talking about today. She was worried about all of us. She wanted us to laugh.


In closing, I want to say thank you.


Thank you Theresa for being the one Kelly would save if we were all on a sinking ship with only two life vests. We love you.


Thank you Rachel for loving and caring for my little sister through thick and thin and I am not talking about her weight fluctuations. We love you.


Thank you Cher. Thank you. For cooking. For cleaning. For yelling at Kelly to get off her ass and walk. For laughing with me until we cried and crying until we laughed. For sleeping with Kelly when she was afraid and sleeping with me when my heart was broken. Thank God for women like you that sleep around. You’re an angel and I love you.


Thank you Char and Debi, for still being alive. I love you both. Char, I promise to let you put makeup on me and do my hair. You can even take me shopping now and then. I promise to pretend I like it. Deb, I promise to call you and talk about Char behind her back like little sisters do. We can laugh and giggle at how old she is. It’ll be fun. I promise.


To Kelly’s minions, past and present. Thank you for loving her, encouraging her, writing and emailing. Calling and visiting. Thank you to “her girls”. Karen, Gina, Denise, Nicole, Pam and all the rest of y’all for all the weekends. She dreaded you seeing her before you got there and then did nothing but talk about what a great time she had with you. How much you did for her, physically, spiritually and emotionally.


To our family……there are just too many of us to name but I can honestly say, Kelly loved every single Walter/Casas family member. She loved you. 


And finally, David…..Thank you. I know it wasn’t easy. I know how hard she could be on you. I also know how much she loved you. I thought it was totally gross when she told me she was dating a tattooed biker. Then I got to know you. I still think you’re gross but not because you’re a tattooed biker, just because you’re a guy. We love you David. Remember…..we‘re still a part of your posse…..or gang…..or pack……or whatever it is you people call it.


So there it is. Did I do ok, Kel? I made people laugh. That’s what you wanted, right? I think that’s all I have to say to you for now. In truth, I am not speaking to you today. I am really angry with you. So is Char. That’s right, we are talking about you behind your back. Deal with it!