Reading Jamy Bond’s essay “What Feels Like Destiny” [February 2006] was like reading my own diary. My aunt Marilyn, only nine months older than I, was killed in a car accident just after her twenty-ninth birthday. In the days following Marilyn’s death, my family and I pored over the few concrete details we had, piecing together the tragedy: she had been slowing down for road construction, and a pickup struck her from behind, causing her car to spin around and hit two other cars. She slipped into a coma almost instantly, and was taken to a hospital where she died soon after.
As children, Marilyn and I were like sisters. She was cuter and more charming than I was, with a timeless little-girl beauty and perfect brown ringlets. I was the brat who once refused to participate in a family photo until I could wear one of her red patent-leather Mary Janes on one foot and my own brown suede loafer on the other. In high school she was first trumpet in band, played basketball, and always made the honor roll; I got mostly Bs, was third-chair clarinet, and stayed away from extracurricular activities. As a teenager she became very involved in her church youth group; I discovered I was agnostic. She got a PhD in psychology so she could help others; I got a BA in English, which led to a string of unfulfilling secretarial positions.
Despite our numerous differences, we remained close and respected each other’s viewpoints. Marilyn had a grace and wisdom that transcended her physical age. I can’t count the number of times I went to her for advice, which she always gave generously.
It is difficult to recover from the early death of a loved one, even more so when the person had such promise and passion to change the world. I felt as though Marilyn, like Bond’s sister Shelby, could have changed the lives of thousands had she been given more time.
I was deeply touched by Jamy Bond’s essay “What Feels Like Destiny” [February 2006]. In 2002 I lost my only sister to suicide. She had struggled for years to become a screenwriter in the cutthroat Los Angeles market. As a forty-four-year-old woman, and an ethnic minority, she had no advantages. Just before she took her life, she’d been passed up for a job in favor of a twenty-something blond intern with half the experience.
After my sister’s death, I went through two years of yo-yo dieting and binge drinking before finding a better way to deal with my emotions: writing, my sister’s former occupation. I’m not a good writer, but putting words down on paper has allowed me to express my feelings in a less self-destructive way.