A few weeks ago, David Sedaris had a piece in the New Yorker about his recently deceased sister Tiffany.
In late May of this year, a few weeks shy of her fiftieth birthday, my youngest sister, Tiffany, committed suicide. She was living in a room in a beat-up house on the hard side of Somerville, Massachusetts, and had been dead, the coroner guessed, for at least five days before her door was battered down. I was given the news over a white courtesy phone while at the Dallas airport. Then, because my plane to Baton Rouge was boarding and I wasn’t sure what else to do, I got on it. The following morning, I boarded another plane, this one to Atlanta, and the day after that I flew to Nashville, thinking all the while about my ever-shrinking family. A person expects his parents to die. But a sibling? I felt I’d lost the identity I’d enjoyed since 1968, when my younger brother was born.
On Wicked Local Somerville, a close friend of Tiffany’s lets Sedaris have it with both barrels:
I found David Sedaris’ article, “Now we are five,” in the Oct. 28 New Yorker to be obviously self-serving, often grossly inaccurate, almost completely unresearched and, at times, outright callous. Some of her family had been more than decent, loving and kind to her. “Two lousy boxes” is not Tiffany’s legacy. After her sister left with that meager lot, her house was still full of treasures.
Not only could Tiffany have been saved, she could have blossomed. While her friends had done pretty much all they could, at least half of her mental health issues stemmed from, or were exaggerated by, her poverty and unstable housing situation, but also from David’s occasional mockery of her in his writings.