Stephanie was a year and a half younger than me, but sometimes I felt like I was the younger sister because I looked up to her. I stood in awe of her determination, her independence, her prodigious talent.
...Stephanie spent her life trying to out of her mother's shadow. As soon as she was able, she left Connecticut and moved to San Francisco. She traveled a bit, with sojourns in Colorado and Mexico, but San Francisco was her home.
I stayed with her for a short while after I left the Air Force in 1987. I knew that she'd been an adventurous drug user since her teens (I'd quit experimenting when I joined the Air Force) but I didn't know about her latest hobby until I saw the blue bruises on the insides of her arms. I begged, pleaded, cajoled her to give up heroin, but there was nothing I could do: she insisted that she would give it up in her own time. Until then, she asked me to promise never to tell our parents. I promised.
Although the coroner initially assumed that her death was the result of a drug overdose, the autopsy revealed that her liver had shut down, the result of heavy alcohol use and severe vitamin deficiencies. In fact she did succeed in giving up heroin, and resorted to alcohol to ease the pangs of withdrawal. She had told me she planned on giving up the alcohol next - she knew she drank too much - but her luck ran out.
I have posted most of her extant poetry here
and her prose here
Of the prose pieces, a couple are unfinished. Most of the prose is fiction but there are some essays and quotes. Our mother appears as the character Ellen in the story "Marie".
Despite her self-destructive behavior, Stephanie did not want to die. In fact she was terrified of death. I don't think I will ever really understand this paradox of her personality. If she feared death, did she fear living more?