Gaile, My Sister, My Friend


I am writing in an attempt to let out some of my pain and in sharing my grief I hope this somehow lessens someone else's burden.

My sister Gaile and I were born 21 months apart and from the start we grew attached to one another. Our older siblings are 10 to 15 years older, which made it all the easier to turn to each other for friendship. In fact, our family joke is that she was born an accident so my parents had me to keep her company. We were unlike my other siblings in that from early on we got along quite well. There's something extra special when you go through those early developmental years, into adolescence and becoming an adult with someone else. It's a unique bond that can never be duplicated again. We shared many life's' experiences together and what made our bond so special to me was that I knew no matter what happened she would always be there for me. She may voice a different opinion, and she never held back on me which I always appreciated, but if I still wanted to go ahead with my decision, she would throw her support behind me 100%. Gaile always called me her best friend, often told others about me, and always had a wonderful warm hug for me. Unconditional love does not come easy or often, so when it's suddenly wrenched from you without warning, the scars that remain never quite heal.

We went to the same grade school, high school and for awhile the same college. She always looked out for me, shared her friends with me, and was always there in tough times and in good times. I always looked up to her for she was a brilliant woman who excelled in whatever she put her mind to. She gave me a tough act to follow. She was always a top student, working her way through college where she double majored in four years. Then onto law school where she again seemingly breezed through, all the while paying her own way, working, teaching at our local Lithuanian grade school on Saturdays', giving her time to various causes and always striving to do better. And no matter how busy her life seemed to get, she always found time to include me. That we would find the time to share our lives together, even though it got harder and harder as we grew older, was why our bond always stayed strong. She was a vibrant woman who often burnt the candles at both ends, which is why I suppose I've never seen such a bright star before nor will I see again.

Gaile moved away several years back to another state. At first we kept good contact, but we started to drift apart. I was distraught at first, then just thought that it's what happens as you get older. I should have paid closer attention to the warning signs. I did see them and did have certain fears, but she never quite told me all that was going on. I did not push for details, I knew when she was ready she would tell me. That's how our relationship worked and why we got along so well. As it turns out however, this proved to be fatal. She was a victim of spousal abuse to a degree I would only find out later. As many physically and mentally abused women do, she turned to alcohol to cope. I know through experience that this only makes things worse, the problems you don't face stay as they are and left unattended get worse, and worse. She soon became an alcoholic. She hid it well, just like she hid the abuse she was taking, but she was now heading downhill without any brakes. A few months before her accident she visited me and my fianc´┐Ż in our new place. We too had moved out of state, but were now much closer to Gaile. During her visit more of the details of her problems came out. She still kept much from me, but we talked of her making new plans and a new start for herself and she finally admitted to her drinking problem as well. I hoped she would stick to the plans we discussed, but upon returning home she soon returned to that vicious cycle she was in. She stubbornly seemed to think that if she applied herself to the relationship as she did the other aspects of her life, in which she had always been so successful, that she could make things right. She failed to understand that it takes two people to make a relationship work and what she was in was no relationship.

On June 6, 1997 around 9:30 PM, she lost control of her car and struck a tree at about 50 mph. She received a severe blow to the head, which if she could have somehow avoided, she would have walked away with only bruises. Unfortunately, it was not what happened. She was operated on and the doctors did all they could, but the damage was too severe. I stayed at her side throughout her stay at the hospital where she died on June 22, never regaining consciousness. Gaile had been intoxicated when she hit that tree. I know why she was drinking, but unfortunately there's nothing now to be done about it. I'm very saddened that her last conscious hours on this earth where filled with pain and suffering, I wish I could have done more to help. I'm so glad that the last words I told her several days before the accident were "I love you". I still love you Gaile and I always will.


Friends we are
Friends we were
Friends forever
No longer together

I miss your smile
I miss your touch
I miss your warmth
Your warm embrace

Memories remain
Like shells on the shore
Born in the ocean
Of lives
Once lived

I search them out
One by one
In hopes to hear
You once again

But they are silent
Nothing to say
Just empty shells
Of what you once were

So what can sustain
Those left behind
If memories are just
Empty shells of time

By Saulius
In Memory of Gaile,
My sister, my friend

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

anniversary date 6-22-97
date of post 3-14-98

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW