Larry Tadlock is the funniest writer I know, and yet this story takes us deeper— into his world of grief and signs.  When his sister died he was in Greece and just knew something was wrong before the call came from his father; the next day he looked to the sky for his answer, and wait until you read what he saw!  Larry reminds us to never forget to look up in his stunning story My sister visits Santorini.

The Greek Island of Ikaria is considered a Blue Zone where a great percentage of people live over the age of one hundred.

They may not be the healthiest and are kind of plump but they love to live stress free. They have amazing white eyes and they eat and talk constantly.  There are mountain villages where people stay up all night dancing and celebrating.  My sister was heavy on my mind, and I wondered if she was slipping away back in Texas.

The first day in Ikaria I should have noticed my first sign –

a black snake appeared on the road as we were passing quickly in the car. We moved to avoid it, and in the same second water splashed me from outside. It baptized me to wake up and pay attention. I regret not calling my mother to see how my sister was doing.

I went to another Island; Santorini when I heard the news, but my body already knew while I was in Ikaria. Just like the moon knew that night in May to call me out on a hike with no light on my feet except it’s beckoning.  I walked from the hotel along the ancient cliffside town of Oia where the world comes to watch the sunset. I had moon dust in my hair on the top of that mountain by the time I got near the town of Thera looking at the volcano from Greek times where you can still jump in and paint yourself in black volcanic dust. That night it was all about the moon.

Santorini is the most beautiful place I have ever been and I have never been there without at least one major spontaneous crying session just over the amazement of it all.


I stopped at little churches that were 2-6 feet tall along the hike (Greeks put one up for every death!) and attempted to meditate, 3-5 minutes here and there.

I remember a night Byron Katie had taken me on a walk in a black night desert and I learned I could trust where my feet went. Learned that I could sleep on cold earth; so it was in this vein that I just walked in the dark. The feet somehow knew not to slip on the various edges of white and sand colored rocks that made up the jagged trail.

While my sister was trying to get out of bed from depression in our hometown, I was eating with the Ikarian’s – home cooked vegetables like baked chickpeas, potatoes with eggplant and onion called soufico and wild greens. Of course lots of wine, including the kind that has dirt and feet in it from making it the original way like Lucille Ball did in that wonderful episode when she got carried away playing and smashing the grapes. I wanted my sister to come there to heal.

I was incredibly restless the day I heard the news.

I had drunk a whole miniature bottle of Rakemelo, a sweet alcohol with honey and cinnamon, and I didn’t understand why I wasn’t drunk.

At dinner my friend had asked me how my sister was doing.  I noticed I had no energy to tell the story about what a hard time she was having, how frustrating it was for the family and how worried I was about her. I would later find out that the sunset dinner in Santorini was in exact hour of her suicide. No wonder the Rakemelo wasn’t working!

Instead I told him I wanted to bring my sister and my mother to Greece for my 50th birthday the following year. I wanted to have a classical guitarist. I didn’t know I was subconsciously planning the celebration of life for my sister’s passing that would happen under an oak tree very close to our families original land in Texas a few weeks later (and yes we had a Spanish classical guitarist).

After the moonlit hike I was moon bathing by the pool when my Dad texted, “Can you talk, now?” I knew something had happened, and I tried to suck in the moonlight to hear the news that my sweet sister Melody had shot herself in the head. My mother in the other room had heard the sounds and tried to save her. There was grace that it was not bloody. Melody had been a good shot.

How did the moon know that night? How can you prepare for such a thing?

My sister had prepared – she bought a gun the month before and was planning to end her long struggle with severe depression and anxiety. No note and who knows what state of mind she was in – curiosity, depression, surrender, bravery or just tired of it all.

My mom got on the phone and was illuminatingly strong. I saw her in my mind – 5 feet 4 inches and she could make a sentence. She had risen to the occasion and was able to speak clearly to tell me what happened. I heard the shock in her voice and I felt the shock in my body.

My sister looked a lot like Hillary Clinton. She loved her and it was amazing she left the year of the election so close to her heart. She and Hillary were very much alike. Same blond hair color and style. My sister had a booming voice and was often criticized for being too aggressive in business. She was a Texas attorney who represented people who had lost their jobs without cause. She was strong – too strong, too blindsided by her own habits and too stressed. She even wore those Clinton-esque pant suits. She worked to fight the system and pay her mortgage.

When I was 5 years old I thought I would have to marry my sister because we shared a bedroom like my Mom and Dad did.  It was such a surprise to me when I got to move into the bedroom with my little brother Tim who was no longer an infant.

My brother cried his heart out at the celebration of life and extorted everyone to go on with living. He’s a baseball coach and was sure he would not speak but found he couldn’t come without doing it.

Melody used to hug me when I said goodbye and she would not let me go, and it bothered me. I thought she was clingy, but I guess something in her knew to hold onto me now because she would have an abbreviated life.

Everyone in the family tried to help.

Dad paid some bills.  My mother moved into her house for the last two years; it was sad Mom got to be the one in the other room. My Dad said, “Those two have a love for each other unlike anything anyone can understand.”

Six months before her suicide I visited Melody in a mental hospital when she was at her worse. It was hard to help her, but she told me she was worried she would go to hell.

I said, “Melody, is it true you are going to hell?”

“No,” she said.

“How does that belief affect you?” I said.

“It makes me terrified. I feel it in my stomach.”

“How would you feel without that thought you are going to hell?”

“Peaceful, relaxed”.

She walked over to the window and for the first time stopped shaking and gazed out peacefully. Then she came over and crawled in my lap; we were there for a few minutes – the most intimate moment I ever had with her. She got better after that and even made it to Christmas that year –  her last Christmas and a kind of grace that she was resurrected for it.

She appeared the morning after her death over Santorini in spirit.  The next day I took the same hike I had taken guided by the moon, only this time it was clear and sunny.

Like a goddess bigger than nature she appeared  – “I just wanted to come to Greece,” she said. “Maybe I acted too quickly. I am ok.”

She filled up the ocean with her hips, ocean pelvic floor, a full woman one hundred percent liberated. With the volcano in the middle, the ancient Monastery far on the largest hill, Thera to the left, and more Greek islands to the right. She filled up that bay with her spirit and I saw it clearly. She was very beautiful; it was so amazing to have lost my sister, gained my sister and the world in one 12- hour period.

I went to see a medium in Malibu recently.

The long haired man half woman didn’t impress me much but I found myself asking how my sister was doing. He said she was cooking up a storm and she was healed. She wanted to cook for me! She wanted to nurture me. As much as I wanted to dismiss the medium, it was true that for years I had begged sister to cook her own meals and heal herself. But she had no interest and didn’t even know how to make toast without burning the house down. Now she is an executive chef in heaven. I hope she is learning some Greek dishes.

The channeler also said my sister Melody sees me with a guitar.


Larry Tadlock is from Denton, Texas. He studied theater at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Larry lives in Maui but often to travels to Los Angeles, New York City and Greece.  He has studied improvisation and sketch writing at The wrGroundlings in Los Angeles and The American Comedy Institute in New York. He has performed standup at Gotham Comedy Club, Stand up NY, The Comedy Store, and The Improv. Larry is certified facilitator of the work of Byron Katie.  Larry is working on a book, The Encyclopedia of Kitchen, a hilarious compilation of essays on life, travel and food.



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