Gary: This is an unusually personal entry for me.
When my inner alarm clock activated at 18 years old, awakening my spiritual seeking, and when I discovered the Law of One the following year, setting me on the journey I still walk today, my little sister, Noelle, seven years younger than me, was the one who could understand. Over the years she non-judgmentally listened to me drone on about densities and wanderers, asking questions, being supportive, and sharing with me her spiritual aspirations. She would even later attend an L/L Homecoming in 2011 and make friends of my friends. I was was more bonded with her than my other siblings, Tessa and Adam. I felt that she was likely a wanderer, that we had a connection that transcended this lifetime.
When I moved away from home to live with Carla and Jim to pursue my own lights in 2003 - a perplexing departure from the perspective of those in my birth world - Noelle was heartbroken, but unlike the others, she somehow understood. She and I remained close in the following years, adventuring together, introducing her to the Smokies, etc. We both planned and expected that Noelle would live near me in the not distant future. To this day I have a table, a microwave, and other home affects in my garage that I've held with the thought that maybe Noelle could use them when she moves, such was the inevitability in my mind. It was just a matter of when it would happen.
But that project kept getting delayed. She struggled in difficult relationships and, unbeknownst to me, she struggled with an addiction to prescription pills. We drifted the past few years, not in heart but in preoccupation with our own lives and sources of catalyst.
I had had some awareness a few years back that both she and my other sister used. But by that point it was framed mostly in the past tense. There had been some turbulence in our family, but there was little outer drama - no rehabs, interventions, major disputes, separations, etc.
Then this year, news emerged that Noelle was using again. We all tried to talk with her, to offer support, but she gave us the illusion that everything was under control, that she was turning a corner, that she knew what she was doing, and that she was just too "embarrassed" to really talk about it. She kept up appearances and held down her job. But, her financial records coupled with later anecdotal information triangulated between her partner and my sister Tessa would reveal the devastating depths that she kept hidden from us.
In terms of the addiction itself, she never binged and she carefully controlled her amounts. But one horrible night, Noelle got hold of a fake pill. For various market-driven reasons, suppliers will mimic a Percocet pill with another, more cheaply and readily available drug called Fentanyl, which also happens to be more dangerous. Noelle unknowingly got a fentanyl pill, and her boyfriend, a soulmate she had known since high school, found her in the living room without a heart rate. This was Saturday morning at 9am, two days after Thanksgiving and three days before her 33rd birthday. Just a few hours prior at 6am she had been messaging my siblings, me, and our spouses in her usual sunny and positive mood; her final message was about getting my mom a Christmas present.
Noelle's passing devastated my family. The pain compounded due to having no foreknowledge of what was coming. So sudden and unexpected, none had opportunity to say goodbye or clarify our hearts. Then the layer of what ifs and we-should-have-done-something-differently... questions that may never stop haunting my mom.
My mom is a strong, well-armored person, having endured a good deal of hardship in her single-pointed mission to raise her four kids. She lived for and through us. Her core identity, a mother. She and Noelle stayed very close. Many nights my mom stayed up for hours chatting with her "Welly," looking forward to the multiple visits Noelle would make to spend with her after my mom moved out west.
My dad, a much simpler person, adored Noelle. However, after a stroke and the onset of dementia, only in his mid-60s, he comprehends the loss and he cries, but the cards reshuffle and he's off in another loop of memory. Noelle had been helping to care for him in his now dependent state.
Her partner, a mutually acknowledged soulmate who lived right down the street from us growing up, they having met in high school, had wanted to marry her and have kids, but the instability and the non-transparency of the addiction proved an insurmountable stumbling block. He has been launched into something of wilderness following the loss.
My brother Adam and his wife Lori, like a sister to my wife, lived close to Noelle the past couple years, so they feel her absence intensely. The oldest of their two kids, Logan, a three-and-a-half year old blond-headed ball of energy and smiles would run excitedly to the window when Aunt Noelle would pull up. She adored my brother's and my sister's kids and always had a blast playing with them. Logan probably won't remember his aunt.
My sister, Tessa, was due with her second child eight weeks from the day of Noelle's death. Tess had already decided to name her upcoming baby girl Brynn Noelle, and she had asked her baby's namesake to be the godmother. Noelle exploded with gratitude and tears. She already loved Colton, Tessa's four-year old. My sisters were each other's best friends. They fought fiercely but loved each other intensely. My parents always said that they had Adam and me all over again but as girls. Unlike my brother and I, they played so much more together. And whereas Adam and I were all about the video games, those two used their imagination all the time inventing games and scenarios. Tess, who has been out west with my mom for a couple years, was so looking forward to moving back to Ohio and having Noelle be a daily part of her kids lives.
I love my family, and on top of my own grief, my heart breaks for their unique pain in losing that which cannot be retreived or replaced from the incarnate standpoint. Fortunately, they are strong in the open heart. We've been of mutual support to one another in a process that has brought us together in shared pain and immense loss.
Noelle was a very, very bright light. She was so awesome. She laughed at everything. Laughter was one of her ways of expressing love. It brightened everyone's mood, made people feel accepted. She loved everyone. She was so much more colorful than my dry personality. She never wasted an opportunity to dance like a goof, no matter who was watching. And so flipping creative too. She had poetry and artistry in her. I was blown away seeing the small glimpses she would let express themselves. I always encouraged her to nurture and give those creative impulses space to grow, but she denied and buried her gifts underneath the intractable certainty that she wasn't worthy. And among her dreams of travel and service, Noelle wanted to be a mother so badly. She treated her cats like her kids. But she, as is now clear in retrospect, never fully faced or communicated her demons.
Noelle was in a lot of pain that stretched back years, but she didn't open up to us about it. She not infrequently ghosted us. And it gave me a lot of opportunity in the weeks following her death to drown in the depths of regret and remorse that I wasn't there to help her when she most needed it. I didn't know. I know that an addict has to want help, but I was saddled with the doubt that had I known more, had I invested more...
It's also gifted me the catalyst of the terrible sorrow that comes from becoming acutely, chokingly aware of all the missed opportunities for connection, opportunities that can never be gotten back in this life. How I have desperately wished I could do things differently. Though the light is becoming more apparent than the dark, more tears have fallen from my eyes the past six weeks than my almost forty-one years combined. If you reading this take anything with you, let it be to reach out to your loved one and not let time slip from your hands.
Death is so final, thwarting the one thing the heart cries out for by slicing down an irreversible, impenetrable barrier. It then presents two stark choices: resistance and the consequent increase in pain, if not insanity; or acceptance, surrender, and the opening to the pathway to healing.
The result of intelligent planning and sensing maybe, I had begun reading the book Journey of Souls just a couple months prior. It was my first foray into attempting to understand the processes and experiences of life between life. Having firsthand accounts of death and the hereafter proved to be a light when the darkness encroached. As has a reading with a local intuitive who, in my subjective heart, was able to connect with Noelle's soul on the other side and relay information that was illuminating, clarifying, and healing, particularly as it highlighted a pathway of preincarnational planning at work. As has the bulwark of the Law of One in the knowledge that all is well, that there are no mistakes, and that nothing is lost. But the human side of me that is woven together with the threads of story, memory, emotion...
I have the big view. I know I will see her wandering soul again. I know I have traveled with Noelle in one capacity or another many times before and will many times again. But it effing sucks, this departure. We had no time to say goodbye, to tell her how eternally we love her.
I will see you again, Noelle, my sweet sister. And when at the doorway, I will go gladly.
Noelle with Eeyore
My brother Adam, sisters Tessa and Noelle, and in front of me, our dad
On our way to a kayaking adventure
At Trisha's and my wedding, the DJ didn't have Noelle's name to announce as the wedding party entered the reception. So she fist bumped her bouquet in the air chanting her own name, then did her funny weird dance on the dance floor
Breaking it down later that night. (If noticed, a sticker of Trish and me on her arm.)
In the wedding's procession.
Noelle reading a Q'uo quote at the ceremony that Trish and I wrote
Noelle and Tessa in our family's stylish Chevy Astro Van
The girls with dad
A concert I took Noelle to, she was lost in her groove
We're on the Ohio River to watch fireworks. Cropped out are Austin and Ken
One of her visits to Louisville
The four siblings
Me with my grown-up sister
Me with my new baby sister
Noelle and Tessa in flight, best friends from the beginning
My mother chose the name Noelle because she was born on December 1st. She arrived near Christmas and departed around the same time 33 years later, a gift to us all