Yesterday I was informed that my two-year-older sister, Kerry Lynne Scott, had died suddenly. Now all that I can do is try to write my way through the numb pain of this latest blow (in the past four years I have lost my father, mother, sister… how many tears does the human body hold?).

When heartache brings me to my knees I reach for words — a life-long habit that has been my salvation – and so I will now. Then I will send it out into the ether to go where it will: hopefully, somehow, to my sister.

Santa, me, my father and Kerry.

Kerry was, from birth, a force of nature. A slender, golden-haired child of stunning beauty, she was diagnosed with a congenital dislocated hip and subjected to new and innovative operations – over and over again. They would cut into her small body (this was ground-breaking science at the time) and then place her in a cast that extended from her waist and down over both limbs in what was called a “frog-leg” formation. I cannot even imagine the pain that she experienced throughout the years from 5 to 11.

My father created a large board with huge hooks on it. He would lift Kerry and affix the cast to the massive construction so that she could watch television and eat upright – and Kerry gleefully referred to it as her “throne.” I was her willing and loving servant. She pulled herself up the stairs, dared anything and conquered everything. She humbled me with her determination.

I remember watching her on her bicycle when half of another of the countless body-casts was removed leaving one thin leg free: flying down the hill on the street in Toronto where we lived as I raced behind her (and my mother wrung her hands in fear) Kerry would sing out in sheer joy.

My early years were spent walking my sister to school as she leaned heavily upon me and then I would beat senseless the cruel children who taunted her by calling her “Gimpy” and “Crip”. This lasted until high school when she blossomed and reigned as the Beauty Queen in situ.

Slender, brilliant, charismatic and beautiful beyond belief, Kerry had finally come into her own.

After graduating from high school she attended Trent University and excelled in her chosen field of philosophy. And then the dark monster that had been lurking throughout the years finally inserted its talons into her and would not relinquish its victim.

We had known, during those tumultuous teen years, that Kerry was “volatile” and easily given to rages, obsessions and inexplicable thoughts. But only in her 30s was the beast finally named: paranoid schizophrenia.

One can no more blame the prey of this devastating disease than one can blame a cancer victim. Kerry fought back and fought back hard. Repeated institutions, episodes and relapses drained my parents as they stood by her every step of the way. As a mother I can only, in my worst nightmares, touch the iceberg tip of their sorrow and helplessness.

Kerry had times, still, of stunning brilliance, an unparalleled wit and extraordinarily gentle love. She was a deeply spiritual woman, a “rock-chick,“ a strong-willed warrior and a poet.

If life-force alone is any measure, then my sister, Kerry, will have blown a hole through the heavens with her arrival. Be prepared, God: she will entrance you, best you in any argument and make you fall in love with her all over again.

And so I am left with the memories of this wild-child woman. Our lives and loves were as tightly entwined as the threads of DNA and I will miss her each day of my life.

To my younger and only sibling, the extraordinary and lion-hearted Hilary Scott: we now bear the torch of our family, my love…and there is no one with whom I would rather share that honor.

Alex Kearns

Alex Kearns

Alex writes for a variety of national and international publications. A relative newcomer to the United States, she co-founded her town's first environmental organization (The St. Marys EarthKeepers, Inc.). In turns bemused, confused, entranced, frustrated and delighted, she enjoys unravelling the eternal enigma that is the Deep South.