It’s been two weeks. Fourteen days since I’ve felt her part of my soul burning hot. Three hundred and sixty six hours since she took her life. That’s 21,960 minutes since time stood still. Her name was Sabrina and she was my sister. She died less than one week after celebrating her 44th birthday. She didn’t leave a note, nor did she say goodbye. I’m not angry. I can’t be. The grief and sadness that envelopes me allows no room for any other emotion. I will not allow her memory to fade into just another number. She deserves so much more from a life that bullied, beat and bloodied her soul until her last breath. Sabrina never once experienced her time on this earth outside of fight or flight. Her destiny determined inside my mother’s aching womb. Our father; I use the term loosely as he was never more than a monster; found sick pleasure in beating the shit out of and terrorizing our mother until she was little more than a shell of the woman and mother she dreamed of becoming. When she was seven months pregnant with her second child, mom once again found herself imprisoned with fear as he barreled his enormous fists into her swollen stomach and face. He beat her through her cries for her unborn child. The more she tried to protect her baby, the more incensed he became. The blows began to alternate between belly and face until he was satisfied with his work and relented. He left her there to bleed out, emptied what little money she had in her purse to drink the rest of the night away with the boys. Mom’s occupied uterus hemorrhaged that day and she would have lost Sabrina had she not received immediate medical attention. Sabrina lived. Mom lived. Our oldest sister lived. Not one of them without the raw, agonizing, profoundly permanent wound in their souls that is exclusive to trauma survivors. This would set a tone throughout our lives but in my sister’s case, it became the cycle that would eventually put a violently abrupt end to her excruciatingly painful time on this earth. We were born into poverty, trauma, mental illness and suffering. Sabrina was, at her very core, a survivor. Whether she knew it or not is beyond me as she never had the proper tools to fully realize her place on this earth. With every punch to the gut came an ever mounting fragility that could not be mended. So, we watched, helplessly, but never without hope, every time that fist met her tenuous soul. She found hollow solace in a bitter prescription dependency. For the last decade of her life, Sabrina attempted to soften the sharp edges of her pain with whatever pills she could get her hands on. Her desperation made itself known with every stolen dollar and/or prescription bottle she hastily ripped from its rightful owners grasp. She was seeking respite from her own mind. From a lifetime of struggle. From a never ending series of fall down, get back up, fall down, get back up. Of course, until the last fall, when she would make her final decent into an eternal sleep. The festering wounds Sabrina collected and carried through her life are now at peace with her yet continue to live on inside of the ones she left behind. Like her ashes, our family split her suffering and as each one of us grapples with the depth of our loss, we are each faced with a choice. We must now decide what to do with it. I cannot speak for anyone but myself when I say that I choose to let my grief take me to the only place I have ever known comfort; my creative mind. I’m 42 years familiar with what I need to survive. I have no choice but to take what I am feeling and create beauty with it because, within that lies the wisdom, courage and hope I must acquire to heal the wounds her death left behind. I should have prefaced by saying that my reason for writing this is solely to raise awareness in a time we need it the most. From the beginning of 2020, we have all endured so much hardship, stress, pain and loss. We are a beaten and battered people, screaming for respite. As the COVID-19 death toll continues its rise, so does the potential rise in the suicide and attempted suicide rates. My sister in now a statistic. Be kind and gentle with yourselves. This life is hard and this year has been no exception. Even through my freshest trauma, I still see hope ahead of me. I still love this life unconditionally (even when I hate it.) I still fight to find my purpose. I still create and love with the whole of my wounded heart. And I will never stop.