December 2019 was a terrible month

My sister’s death was a complete surprise. She was supposed to go grocery shopping for me and my mother that Saturday morning, and was going to call us before she left the motel. By 9am we hadn’t heard from her, and I was getting worried. Calls to her phone went unanswered. I called the motel and had the desk clerk check her room. The clerk said the door was locked from the inside and the TV was on, but no one answered.

Deep inside myself, I think I knew already.

I checked with her husband back in Texas to see if he’d heard from her – he hadn’t. I contacted the police and asked them to do a welfare check. And then I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I called the dispatcher a couple of times, hoping for information, and was finally told that someone would be in touch soon.

At 1 pm there was a knock on the door. Two officers stood on my front step.

They told me they forced entry into my sister’s room and found her dead on the bed. I was stunned, but not as much as I thought I would be. Like I said, I just knew, somehow. After the officers left I called her husband and told him the news, passing on the officers’ contact information. Then my mother and I just kinda looked at each other in silence for a long while.

My sister’s cause of death was confirmed as ‘positional asphyxiation’. She was a smoker, and had asthma, and was unused to the higher altitude in Wyoming. She had some health problems of her own, and was on medication that made her very sleepy. She evidently fell asleep in a strange position and then suffocated.

I loved my sister, even if – like most families – we didn’t always get along. I didn’t have much time right then to mourn her, though. I worried about her husband and her two children (both teens), but a lot of my concern was on my mother. I needed to arrange help to take care of her, as with my broken leg there was a lot I couldn’t do.

Five days after my sister died, my mother died.

…to be continued.



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