Chris Graham: Hugs have to suffice

September 23rds aren’t good days around the Abbe-Graham household.

“You know what tomorrow is, right?” my wife asked me last night, and of course I did.

I never knew her twin sister, Christina, who died of suicide at age 15, now 22 years ago, on Sept. 23, 1992.

To show how small the world is, my little sister had been friends with Christina in middle school, though I didn’t meet Crystal until we were both adults.

I knew of what had happened through my sister. I was in college when she told me that a friend had killed herself.

Over the years, Crystal has shared with me the details of what happened the night of the shooting. I’ve even read the suicide note.

To say the least, it made no sense. Somebody that young

Crystal wonders aloud what her sister would be like today at age 37. Would she have followed her twin to Virginia Tech? Would she have a family?

I tell Crystal often that I think she holds back on letting herself get too happy about her life because of what happened. I’m not even an amateur psychologist, but I’ve read up on survivor’s guilt, and I’d say that describes her sometimes-unnatural lows.

I want her to be able to spread her wings and fly, and I know that she wants that, too. It’s just tough.

Think about how tough it is for those of you who have lost a parent, like I did a few years ago, or even a child, which has to be among the toughest things to endure on the planet. Losing an identical twin has to trump them all.

You had a built-in best friend from birth who was with you 24-7 your entire life – and then they were gone.

Add to that the way it happened, and you get a glimpse into what every day is like for my wife.

I wish I knew what to say that could make it all better, but there are no such words.

Hugs have to suffice.


– Column by Chris Graham


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