Cell phones were not common when I was 16 years old, so it was impossible for me to contact my family when a cop came to the door. He told me my sister was dead and he took me to identify her body. Apparently 16 is old enough to see a dead body, but not old enough to take custody of her from a police station after an arrest... New Jersey is crazy.
The officer and the medical examiner gave me the "brace yourself" line-- like that ever works. The sheet was pulled back, and WOW... it's not Lee. When I told them, they didn't believe me. "This is your sister, you're just in shock. The car accident caused injuries to her face so she looks different."
No dude, I think I know who my sister is. We've had enough fist fights and broken enough furniture and windows while doing it for me to know who she is. The woman on the table looked like her, was the same size as her.... but it wasn't her. I called her stupid husband to ask where she is, "I don't know. We had a fight and she took off. Where did you say you were?"
"The Medical Examiner's office, why didn't you talk to them when they called?"
"Medical Examiner? I thought they said Mental Health Center-- I owe them $50 for our marriage counseling sessions."
"Wait... I'm 16 years old and was brought down to identify my sister's dead body all because you are a freaking idiot? No amount of counseling is ever going to help you anyway." Then I slammed down the phone.
It turned out that my sister's purse was in this woman's car, therefore because of the characteristics of the woman, they assumed it was Lee. Then I called her work. It was her day off and she was not really the responsible type. She floated around from job to job, often because her crazy, stupid husband would call and argue with her. (Can you tell I despise the man?). She answered the phone at the pizza place, and I asked her where her purse was and who she had been with. It turned out she had been with her friend, Desiree, got dropped off by her, forgot the purse cause her husband was already screaming at her in the street, then she got in her own car and took off. She figured she would go into work and make some money.
When she arrived at the Medical Examiner's office to explain, they told her she was already certified as "Deceased". What the point was of having someone identify the body if they were going to do what they want anyway is beyond me. She yelled and screamed in typical Lee fashion, then the man finally held up a picture of both women. "Can you tell these two woman apart?"
Lee grabbed her photo, "Yeah, this is me! You think I don't know ME????"
It took her about three months to get herself declared alive again.
Keep reading.... it gets better....
Little Sister -- Lee's favorite song to sing to me. I can't tell you how many times I heard this. :) Now I play it just because.
We got to the hospital and were told it was a three vehicle accident. One was drunk who caused it, one was dead, and the other was unconscious. For hours they had all three families in the same waiting room, not knowing if our relative was dead or killed someone else. It was the worst feeling in the world. Finally, someone pulled me aside and asked to take me to the body. I didn't tell my mother, I just followed. The sheet was removed, again... it WASN'T her! I started laughing from relief, then realized this was the daughter of the family from the waiting room.
"Oh my god. Where's the other family? Do they think their daughter's alive?" Yep, the staff took the dead girl's family to Lee's room where she was unconscious. Those poor people lost a 22 year old daughter because the other vehicle had a drunk driver. It took some time before they told us Lee was sober and just leaving work when it happened.
How did this happen you ask? The paramedics took them out of the cars and wrote the vehicles on the toe tags. They wrote the wrong car, so they believed my sister to be the other girl. She looked young, so even at 32 she could have passed for 22.
So now you can understand when I tell you this.....
On New Year's Day 2011 I received a call from my mother at 10 am, "Lee's dead." I blinked, "Lee who? My sister Lee?"
I didn't believe it. How could I? I didn't believe it until I saw the body. Her funeral is a post for another day... and YES.. my family even makes a funeral funny.
It's taken me a long time to come to grips with her death. Writing these stories online makes her immortal. She was 47 years old when she died, and I often think it is for the best. She was young at heart with such a free spirit that I think if she turned 50 the entire world would have exploded from the emotions she would have unleashed.
It's mean to say, but she hated old people. She refused to work her retail jobs on Tuesdays and Wednesdays because they were "Senior Citizen Discount Days". The worst thing that could possibly happen to her would be to be stuck in line behind, or driving behind, some old person. She'd yell and beep. I think her life just moved really fast, and she didn't have time to waste. Yet, if an older person needed help with something, she was there...... she just couldn't be there on a regular basis. It was the same with kids... she loved kids, as long as she didn't have to put up with them for hours-- future posts on that topic will be coming as well.
"I'm never getting old," she would say. And she was right.