Book Details Coping With Loss Of Sibling

OSWEGO, NY – They say that everyone has a story to tell.

Some people’s stories are more compelling than others. Case in point, Lisa Buske.

Hers is the story of her sister, Heidi Allen.

Heidi Allen
Heidi Allen

Sixteen years ago her sister, Heidi Allen, went missing from a convenience story in New Haven. Authorities say she was kidnapped by a couple of local brothers and is presumed dead.

Her body has never been located. But to this day, the case remains open and police continue to investigate.

“My aunt Nancy called me with the news Heidi was missing,” Lisa said. “I thought it was a misunderstanding at first, considering we lived in such a small country town like New Haven. My great-aunt had lost her battle with cancer the previous day and I thought Heidi might have went to check on my uncle. Yet, I knew she would have never left the store without contacting someone, waiting for them to arrive first.”

Once she arrived at the store, seeing all the police cars and officers snapped her out of her denial and into reality.

Lisa took an unpaid family leave from work so she could attend the trials of Gary Thibadeau, his wife Sharon and his brother Richard.

“On birthdays, anniversaries and holidays, there is an emptiness that is sometimes too sad for words. These are the times I turn to God and pray for the strength to get through the day,” Lisa Buske on her sister, Heidi Allen

“I attempted working at the beginning, but wasn’t able to. My heart and mind were with my parents, family and the DA’s Office,” she said. “I don’t remember a lot of details. I know I didn’t work and was at the courthouse every day with my family for support.”

Following Gary’s conviction, she was numb.

“It was almost as if the conclusion of the trial solidified the fact of Heidi’s disappearance and presumption of her death,” he sister recalls. “I remember just sitting in the courtroom; I don’t remember any emotions or thoughts, I just remember sitting and then, it was the next day.”

When Richard was acquitted in a separate trial, she was confused.

“How could they convict one and not the other?” she asked rhetorically.

Lisa Buske, right, meets with author Christina Kilbourne recently
Lisa Buske, right, meets with author Christina Kilbourne recently.

“What do I think about 16 years later when my thoughts turn to Heidi? As I drive by the community garden near the store, I smile as this represents one small way the community shows their continued love and remembrance for my sister,” Lisa said. “I say a prayer for her each time I see it, which encourages my heart knowing that God hears and answers each prayer given Him.”

“When I see her classmates, overwhelmed as they are grownups and Heidi is perpetually 18 in my mind, when I see her friends, it breaks my heart at times to think of the things she missed – like being married, having children, a career and class reunions,” she continued.

On other occasions, seeing her sister’s friends gives Lisa hope as they embrace and welcome her as if she were their friend because of their love for Heidi.

“When I look at my parents, I am humbled as they have had to suffer the worst part of this journey, other than Heidi. I think of Heidi as they say things that turn their thoughts to Heidi; and the look on their faces on some of those moments – sadness overcomes me and I wish I could take away their pain,” she said.

Lisa remembers a news story years ago about the recovery of a missing child. She had a bittersweet reaction of, “Thank you, God, for the answers You’ve given that family.”

“And then there is the part of me stomping my feet and screaming, ‘Why not Heidi?’” she added.

Her thoughts vary. Some days thinking of Heidi lifts her up and encourages her, such as attending the Ride for Missing Children with the NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) or NYS Missing Person’s Day in Albany.

“On birthdays, anniversaries and holidays, there is an emptiness that is sometimes too sad for words,” Lisa admits. “These are the times I turn to God and pray for the strength to get through the day.”

The DA’s Office continues to stay in close contact with the family and provide any updates, Lisa said.

New members of the sheriff’s department are also updated regarding the case, she added.

Lisa describes herself as “a closet writer.”

“I love to write and have shared some of my writing with a few people,” she said. “I attended my first writing conference in July and have been inspired.”

At the conference they said to “get your name out there even before you are published” as this will help when seeking publication – publishers want to know you have an audience, she noted.

She is trying to follow up on all the information that she digested in two “short days” at the conference.

Back in 2006, she entered a three-day novel writing contest.

“Sad news is I didn’t win. But I received a beautiful handwritten note encouraging me to finish and seek publication,” she said. “They said it wasn’t exactly what they were looking for for the contest, but urged me to finish and get it published.”

This September, Labor Day Weekend, will mark the four-year anniversary of the inception of her first book.

“Over the past four years, I have puttered on the revisions ever so briefly as I wasn’t mentally prepared to finish,” she said.

“God is good and I’ve grown – attending the writer’s conference has inspired and motivated me to finish,” she said. “There are four wonderful authors helping me by critiquing and editing my revisions so I can start to seek publication. It is exhilarating, inspiring and motivating to be writing again.”

The draft is all written and she is in the revision and editing phase.

“My goal is to have the final revision done before Thanksgiving,” she said. “That’s if I do one chapter a week.”

Growing up, Lisa loved to write and her parents would save the youngster’s creations in a keepsake box.

But somewhere between college and being married “I cleaned out,” she said, adding that she regrets the decision.

“So sad now. Anyone that I talk to about journaling, I encourage them to keep their journals. I wish I’d never gotten rid of my journals,” she said.

Lisa credits several of her teachers with instilling the love of writing in her. She was bitten by the writing bug when only in the first grade.

She is writing her book from a sister’s perspective to help other siblings, she explained.

“My book is written about the abduction of my sister. It is written from the sister’s perspective – with a main focus on my relationship with God and how that has evolved in spite of the tragedy experienced,” she explained.

Her goal is for the book to help other siblings, family members or community members understand how the siblings left behind feel after losing their sibling in a tragic way.

A plaque recognizing Heidi Allen is located in the community park near the store she was abducted from more than 16 years ago.
A plaque recognizing Heidi Allen is located in the community park near the store she was abducted from more than 16 years ago.

“The target audience for my book is siblings. As a sibling, there is no way I can put into words how my parents are feeling – abduction affects each member of the family and community differently,” she explained “There is a blanket feeling, emotion or way to grieve, it depends on each individual and the role they hold in the tragedy. If a parent is able to read my book to help them in dealing with their siblings still here, it will be a blessing, yet the purpose is to help the sibling.”

“It is my heart’s desire for others to be blessed and see God never leaves us during difficult times, it is us that leave Him – we need only open our eyes and hearts and recognize His love and comfort,” she said, adding, “Easier said than done until I reflected back. He never left me, I had left Him.”

Recently she met with Christina Kilbourne in her role as president of the Oswego Reading Council.

The author discussed her book “Dear Jo: The Story of Losing Leah and Searching for Hope,” written for tweens using a journal entry format of a girl who lost her best friend to an internet predator.

“We talked for a while after the meeting and everybody had left. She said ‘I do not know how you could write your book. I had all I could do to write my research for my book. How do you write your book from walking through it?’” Lisa said. “There is nothing out there for siblings. When I get to a part that’s too emotional, I just walk away for a while and then come back to finish it. That’s why it is taking so long.”

She encourages people to check out her website: http://lisabuske.weebly.com/ or be her friend on Facebook: Lisa M Buske (her writing Facebook page)

If you want to talk writing – you can email her at [email protected]