She Was My Only Sister

Kelly Nieswand

On December 17th, 1983 my only sister, Erin, was murdered in her dormitory room at Cornell University. She was shot in the head by her roommate's ex-boyfriend. I was 14 years old and still remember being awakened by my father cursing on the phone. I instantly knew something was wrong. You see, my father never raised his voice...let alone cursed. My mother quickly took the phone. As I sat at the kitchen table waiting to hear what happened my mother said, "She was shot?". She looked at my father and said, "Erin has been shot!" From that moment on my life has never been the same.

My parents both checked out emotionally leaving a 14 year old alone, scared, and left with a pain no one would ever understand. I don't remember my father's response as much as my mother's. My mother took my sisters death and ran with it. She appeared on talk shows and was clearly the center of the drama. I became invisible. It was as if she were Erin's mom but forgot she had another daughter.

It has been 15 years since my only sister was murdered but I am just recently dealing with her death and the roadblocks it created throughout my life. I turned to drugs, name it, I tried it. I tried everything to numb the pain, to get my parents attention. Finally, I moved away. Away from my parents, away from my home town, away from the horrible memories.

I have been away for 5 years now. It is good. I love my parents but can't live near them. The journey I am on is my own. I am on it alone. I hope someday I will be able to forgive my mom for abandoning me in my time of need. I know she did the best she could. Unfortunately, it wasn't good enough. I realize she lost a daughter...but somehow people forget the siblings left behind.

There seem to be so few people with a similar experience, which leaves me feeling alone and disconnected. Everyone who was around 15 years ago has moved on. They forget that I was only 14 and don't understand that I am only now beginning to cope. They have taken their journeys but mine has just begun.

Please feel free to e-mail me if you have had a similar experience.

Erin...I miss you every day. Many have moved on, but I a have not forgotten.

Kelly Nieswand

You can send email to Kelly at: [email protected]
mail welcome

anniversary date 12-17-83
date of post 06-30-98

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW