I made the call to Shelly's sister.
As soon as I told her it was me, she started to thank me. She was talking a mile a minute, about how happy she was that I called.
The emotions over powered me. She sounds so much like Shelly. I hadn't said a thing other than my name for a couple of minutes. I was crying and covering the phone so she wouldn't hear me.
I finally had to interrupt her, "I tried to find you...any of you...for so long..."
She stopped talking.
"I'm so sorry...I tried...Shelly died...seven years ago...I tied to find you..."
Then we were both crying.
She wanted to know how and when. All of the details I had long tried to put behind me.
We talked about her for awhile, about the family and the things that had driven them all apart. It seems she was as in the dark about it as the rest of us. Life just seems to have gotten in the way for them. All of them too stubborn or proud to pick a phone or write a letter.
She asked me if I would send her Shelly's ashes. I still have them. She asked for photos and things that I kept.
I told her I would think about it, but In my head I was saying, "Hell no. Why should you you get any part of her. Your nine years too late."
She thanked me for calling, over and over. She thanked me for being there for her sister when the rest of them weren't.
I'm not sure why but I told her she could keep in touch. After we hung up I emailed her. I told her the things I couldn't get out on the phone. How angry I was at them. About the things Shelly went through toward the end. Asthma is not a good way to die.
She emailed me back to thank me for my honesty. Apologized some more.
I was so emotionally and physically drained I couldn't think straight. When I got home I opened the box of Shelly's things. A photo album of her family from her childhood. The hundreds of photos of our life together. Jewelry, cards and trinkets she had saved. I actually put together a small box of things to send her sister. Then I put it all back in my studio where it has been for so many years.
It all seems too close again. I won't be sending the box. At least not for now.