She started a life full of promise. She was bright, infectious, funny. And then she started down a couple of bad paths, and they led to a couple more. It soon became clear that she had problems, and her problems became our problems. And ultimately she died far too young on February 12, 2010, at the hands of another.

We’re full of questions, regrets, and sadness… but we’ll be ok. I wrote the following to read on Friday at her funeral, but ultimately someone stepped in to help.

Good luck, Tara. The worst is over, and there’s happiness ahead.

Tara had a hard life. She lived her life in a difficult way, and never managed to take advantage of what was offered her to make it better. Hard choices that may have helped her were often discounted; the easier path was more often taken. It was a frustrating cycle for those who loved her, and I, like others, ultimately gave up hope that she would turn her life around, and find a positive path.

Her diseases kept her from behavior that we would consider rational, and to blame her for simply making bad choices in her life would not be fair to her. Her life became harder over the years simply because her capacity for rational behavior became less and less. Her diseases made it harder to make good choices, and her resulting choices created an even harder life. I spent a long time blaming Tara for her behavior, but I now know that it was not all her fault. And I’m sorry, Tara.

The thing is, I gave up hoping for Tara. And I simply gave up on her. But I never stopped loving her. And no matter the choices she made in her life, I want to think of her now as the same bright, beautiful person she was when she was young.

One of her friends from high school, arguably the best time of Tara’s life, wrote:
“I do and will always remember her fondly. Bright eyed, clever, inquisitive, together.”

The easiest, and most disrespectful way to remember Tara will be through her problems. And I won’t do that, Tara, I promise. I’m going to hold onto the best of you. You, in better days.

I think that’s what we all can do. Remember the best of her, in her best times. Her smile. Her eagerness to laugh. Her love of music. The remarkably easy way her personality could attract a new friend. Her kindness, her heart.

You’ll always be family, Tara. We love you.

Reader Interactions


  1. I’m so sorry for your less. I recently lost my step-mother much too early. She spent her entire life chasing demons & trying to be happy.

    I hope they finally get the happiness they deserved.

  2. Jay… I am so sorry. I don’t know what to say… I can imagine how sad you must feel, thinking of how it could of been… I was almost in your shoes… I have a twin sister, who lives a hard life, probably similar to Tara. In December she almost died… Being her twin, I probably would of wrote a eulogy that sounded a lot like yours… I know what its like to offer the help you know she needs and it not being received… I am so glad i didnt loose my sister, but she is not taking it as a new beginning….

    There is only so much we can do for our loved ones here on earth. She is where she has peace and she is healed… Love to you and your family.

  3. Jay… I saw this on facebook and I am so sorry for your loss. I am praying that your family finds peace and prayer at this time. Love, Jenn

  4. To lose your sister twice in one lifetime is more than anyone should be asked to do. Yet you did and you survived. ((HUGS))) to you and your family and I wish you all peace with the decisions you were forced to make by her actions.

    Take care – I’ll be thinking about you

  5. Jay I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your sister. May she finally be at peace and you be reunited one day. Illness is hard on both the afflicted and those who love her. Take comfort in knowing she is finally free.

  6. Jay & Family, I’m so sorry for your loss. Your sister sounds like an amazing women despite her rough life growing up. I can tell from what you wrote that you deeply care for her and she will be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with you in this time of loss.


  7. Jay, I am so so SO sorry for your loss. There are no words in this world that can make you feel better in a situation like this, but at least she is finally happy in a different place then this.

  8. Oh my goodness, Jay, I’m so sorry for you and your family. This can’t be an easy time. Your letter is absolutely beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. I’m sure sometimes it’s hard to just remember the best, and I think it’s incredible that it’s your goal. You’re all in my prayers, and I hope it get’s better for you all and easier very soon.

  9. Jay we are very saddened to hear of your loss. I found yuor letter very inspiring, filled with a perspective we could all take to heart. we have always though the world of you and we wish yu and your family peace and comfort in this difficult time. God Bless Brother.

  10. Jay — I’m so sorry for the loss of your sister and the difficult life she chose to live (I have a similar family situation). I’m glad you’re holding on the brighter, sweeter memories of her.

  11. That brought tears to my eyes. I am incredibly sorry for your loss. I have a younger brother who is schizoaffective – and I know how horrible it feels to give up hope…. and at the same time (horribly) freeing. I know one day I will get the news of my brother… and it’s heart breaking. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  12. Your post brought me to tears and put things into perspective for me. Thank you for helping me to realign my priorities for the day.

  13. Okay, this is all my fault I admit it. But people are thinking I am no longer reading them and so I don’t want them to read ME and COMMENT, and I DO! I AM still reading you and I will start commenting again I promise!

    I got into a bad rhythm when I started having so much computer problems, I started not commenting thinking most my comments were probably lame and not wanted, but i see that was a mistake and want to rectify that NOW. I am going to get back to my Comment-Whoring ways…that is Kristina’s phrase remember that, LOL, and so come back to me my friends, I NEVER left you, I just got way too comfy with Google Reader and read you there!! I LOVE my bloggy friends!!

  14. This is so well written Jay. Sometimes I wish we could go back in time and re-make decisions for people. We’re all meant to choose our own paths I suppose, but it can be so tragic sometimes.

  15. Jay, I’m so sorry.

    This hits a little too close to home for me. For me it was – is – my big brother. We lost him oh, it’s been about 8 years now. I wish I could write how I feel about him, about it all, I just can’t. Not yet anyway.

    You are so right, don’t disrespect by remembering our loved ones by their problems. There was so much good, that why the loss hurts so much.

    This is beautiful Jay. Wonderful words. Again, I’m so sorry.

  16. Apparently it’s been far too long since I’ve stopped in.

    I am so very sorry about the loss of your sister, Jay.

    My mother also died at the hands of another.

    THis was a beautiful post.


  17. My mother, two brothers, and nephew have mental illnesses. My mother passed in the 90’s. When I was growing up it was difficult to separate the person from the illness. I tried. Sometimes I was successful and other times I was not. Both brothers and nephew are still alive. One brother and my nephew take their medications and are monitored. The other brother, I fear, will meet the same fate as your sister. He refuses to acknowledge his condition. It is only a matter of time. Thank you for your story.

  18. I’m so sorry for your loss Jay. We lost a family member to suicide four years ago and it definitely taught me more than I ever wanted to know about mental illness. I like to think that the one positive thing that came out of Shelley’s passing is that it has made me a better, more understanding and empathetic, person.

    Hugs to you all.

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