It really has been a year
Suzy Barile with Pattie and Jesse Brooks

Although tomorrow, Jan. 15, is the first anniversary of my baby sister Pattie’s untimely death, that it was a Tuesday is what I always will remember. (Above, Pattie with her youngest, Jesse)

We had talked Monday night as I packed for my weekly trip to Raleigh, and she said she was excited about a field trip she was chaperoning the next day for Jack’s class. Crosscreek Charter, where all three boys were in school, was her sanctuary, a place where she felt needed and wanted, where she’d been volunteering since the summer of 2006 when Jack went to kindergarten. Jesse, who will turn 8 next week on Jan. 24, practically grew up there, as he was 6 months old when Jack started school; Joseph, who will be 12 on Jan. 22, went to kindergarten the following year. It was home away from home.

That night, she told me how the young men and women – the sixth graders – had to dress up for the event. Even Jack had agreed to wear a tie. With her excitement, I looked forward to hearing about it the next day. But that didn’t happen, for at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Joseph called to tell me Mommy had been taken to the hospital, and soon Warren, my friend Gail’s husband, was driving me to Louisburg. John was home in Harmony, but immediately found someone to take care of Cady the dog and was on his way.

It didn’t matter.

An embolism has a funny way of taking someone immediately. No time to say what needs to be said. No time to say goodbye. No time to hear about a field trip. Time simply stops as a life comes to an end.

Tuesdays -- the day I drive 2-1/5 hours to Raleigh to teach -- are my times to remember. I do my morning stretches and think about how a Tuesday was her last day on this earth. I head down the road and miss the morning chats we had while I was driving. If Crosscreek was tracked out and the boys were home, they could be heard in the background – often arguing, as boys tend to do -- but we’d keep on talking, discussing their plans for the day, her dreams for them, our next time together, anything and everything.

Because she was 5 when I went to college, we got to know one another and become friends as adults. It was a friendship I cherished.

. . .

The other morning I awoke about 5 o’clock from a dream: Jesse and I were walking back into the house from somewhere we had been, and as I glanced down the hallway, I saw a large brown, lumpy mound. Before I had a chance to investigate, the mound jumped up.

From under it emerged Jack, Joseph, and Pattie.

“Surprise,” yelled Pattie, a huge smile on her face.

It was my sign. I am so sad that she is gone, yet I know she is safe and happy and with us, always.