As I was driving into work this morning, I started to think about my sister. This week marks five years since her death. I see the “national sibling day” posts on Facebook, with all my friends sharing them and showing love for all the world wide web to see. I see photos and posts of sisters and brothers loving each other and feeling “blessed” to have one another. I try to ignore it. I try to pretend that I am pragmatic and it simply doesn’t apply to me, but who am I kidding? This sucks.
When she first died I was so angry at her. How could she be so selfish? How could she do this to my parents? How could she be so stupid, as to put herself in a situation that would cause her harm- and everyone around her pain? The last conversation we had- she was mad at me. The last time I saw her, she was mad at me. I said horrible things about her to anyone who would listen. I acted awful. I was blind to things going on around me because I was in such a state of hatred. Well, now that it has been five years, I can honestly look back and say that I didn’t deal with her death very well and I genuinely miss my sister.
I have always known that my sister and I didn’t get along. Anyone you ask who knew us both would say the same. I was the annoying little sister always getting in her way. I was the reason she had to stay home, so my parents could go out. I was the tattle-tale. Whatever- I was 5 1/2 years younger and looking back I simply didn’t understand how this “sister” figure could hate me so much. She was like a foreigner in my home at times. But with as many things that I can think back on with pain, there are some memories that I can look back on and smile. We had our moments. These are 5 happy memories of my sister:
1. She ALWAYS made Christmas special. Leading up to Christmas, it was almost like a campaign in my house for the gifts we would like to open come December 25th. We would start, depending on whenever the item would have been marketed through television, or whatever our friends had that we secretly coveted. Or whatever crazy idea was in our head that we had to have. We would pitch our ideas, much like Ralphie. Well, Jennifer had this skill of finding where my parents would hide the presents. She would wait until my parents were gone out to dinner and she would take me on an adventure. Mind you now I recall it they were always in the attic, but at the time I thought she was brilliant. How did you know!? Then, on Christmas eve, we would go to bed, pretending we didn’t know what we were getting the next morning. Fast forward until the next morning: She would wake me up between 2-4am. She would lead me out to the living room to see what “Santa” had left for us. 100% of the time there were gifts that we had NO clue we were getting. How did mom hide those from Jennifer?! My mom had this way of leaving some gifts unwrapped, our packed stocking and then the rest of the presents looking like we were the only house Santa visited. Jennifer and I would grab our stockings (that was all she would allow us to open) and empty them on the living room floor. We could eat some of the candy and then she would make us stuff them back up again, so mom didn’t know we opened them. It was usually around 4am at that time. We had permission to wake dad. We had a strict rule that we had to wait until 7am to wake mom, but until then we would watch cartoons with dad in the living room until she woke up. She made that morning special every year of my childhood. Even when she was 16, before she left for North Carolina. She would ignore the silly stigma of liking your sister not being “cool” and she would bring us back to our magical Christmas world. Nowadays, I try to wait until Christmas morning to open my gifts. I don’t look for them though because it’s just not the same.
2. She was proud of me. She always described me as 5’10”. I don’t think I have to say how awesome this was, but every time I would walk into a room, she would have prefaced my entrance with the description that I was a 5’10” blonde, with green eyes and played men’s lacrosse. In later years, she would add “and went to college.” Note: I’m not 5’10”. I’m 5’8″ and change, and I only played men’s lacrosse for one year. I did go to college, but she was so smart that if she had decided to go, she would have kicked ass. I was always sad she would brag about colleges she got into (BC and UNC-Chapel Hill), but then would be jealous that she didn’t go. She could have gone! Side note: YES, my license says 5’9″, but I mean….I am basically 5’8 1/2″, so I’m not really lying, per se. …Oh, shut up.
3. She could be mean to me, but you would get your ass kicked if you dared give a bad look in my direction. She declared it her sisterly right. Seriously, I have seen her punch out a boy at the bus stop for picking on me. Damn straight. Now, this isn’t admitting that I necessarily liked the way she would play little games like “if you ignore me for two hours, then I will play Barbie with you.” Or when we would play Barbie, she would take all the good new clothes and leave me basically with a naked Barbie, saying I was her servant. But hell, when she would pay attention to me I soaked up every minute of it.
4. My father, her and I all have one thing in common: we can read a novel in a day or two. Her favorite book was “The Grapes of Wrath” and she would often comment that she had read it many times over. She was this beautiful crazy party girl, who was secretly smart. It was up to her and only her who she would let know that information. I was often confused when she would be so bubbly and play the ditz, when she was anything but that- truly. She had this Daisy Buchanan way of living- perhaps it was simpler to be the beautiful fool. I just hope people know she wasn’t a ditz.
5. My grandmother Lois’s house. My grandmother lived in Statesville, North Carolina. Often times during the July fourth holiday, we would travel down the coast and stay with her. The trips graduated to Myrtle Beach, but for this memory I will stick to Lois’s house (yes, we called my grandmother by her first name). Lois had a trampoline. It was a huge old rusty trampoline. Not like the ones today with padding and and nets. This was where Jennifer taught me to do flips, splits and crazy jumps that she learned from being a cheerleader. It was so much fun. Once, I accidentally triggered the police alarm in the house. Well, Jennifer grabbed my arm and pulled me to the trampoline. I had more fear in me than I knew what to do with, but she insisted that if we just jumped and pretended that we had no clue what was going on, then no one would be the wiser. Police showed up and we just watched from the back yard. Dum de dum. We didn’t do it because we have been here all along! From finding my grandmothers “toy” collection (inappropriate, I know, but it was funny as hell at the time) to helping me catch fireflies- it was always fun. Side note: Yes, there was the story when she first taught me to do a flip and my head caught between the springs. She left me there, laughing. Obviously, I escaped. So I guess I can forgive her now.
Bonus: Pillow fights. Jennifer would make it like a celebrity death match, but in our hall way, with pillows. She would come to get me in my room or downstairs. I always felt so lucky when she would come to get me. She picked me to play with, yay! We would shut all the doors in the hallway and stand at either ends- pillow in hand. My mom would yell “GO!” and we would start in on each other. No mercy. I feel like she always won, but it was so fun. It was our duel. I want to go as far to say as sometimes when we would fight in the real world, my mom would make us pillow-fight-it-out, in order to work it out. We always ended up laughing. Nice work, mom.
She picked on me for not being able to change oil in a car, claiming that there was no way we were related, but she would call me whenever she was sad. No matter where in the country we both were at the time- she would call. Those in our lives might not know that, but it’s true. I could play the “I wish…” game over and over, hell, anyone who lost a loved one too young probably can, but it doesn’t do any good. Five years this June 5th since I lost my only sibling and I’m happy to rise above the bullshit and finally admit I miss her.
Would have been cool if she were around- I’d totally give her shit for being in her forties. Hey, I’m still her little sister. You can’t take that away from me.