A sister is both your mirror – and your opposite. ~ Elizabeth Fishel
I grew up in my sister’s shadow. Five years older then I, it was a hero worship that would have made even Mother Theresa go insane. But not my sister.
The youngest of four at the time, she would have been well with in her rights to be jealous of baby number five coming along and ousting her youngest child star status. Not only that, but before I was born, I was already taking all of our mother’s attention because of a problem pregnancy.
But not Jacquie. At five years old she relished being part play thing, part sisterly teacher. From talking for me, in a way only a sister could understand, until she was told sternly to be quiet because she was stealing all my words, to teaching me everything I needed to know about fashion, women’s anatomy, and boys.
It could have come across as mothering. But some how, with her, it never did. From a young age, I emulated her. Listening to her boy band music obsession, yes even Hanson, going to my first concert with her (98 Degrees) and counting the hours until she came home from school just so she could play dolls with me.
At my young age, she was my mountain, on a pedestal so high even Mount Everest wouldn’t reach it.
Their were times when I cursed the age gap that existed between she and I and the rest of my siblings and even cousins. Wondering why I couldn’t do things they did. She never made me feel bad about it. She always tried to include me. Always. Even when the other kids would roll their eyes at the pesky younger sister, she always stood firm and let me partake in the older kid fun.
I use to count the days and years until I would be old enough to not be in her shadow, but an equal. Where we would make plans and dates for those milestones of twenty-first birthdays, quarter life crises. Maids of honors at each others weddings. Godmothers to our daughters. Corrupting each others kids in ways that only an aunt can do.
We would be the Golden Girls in our eighties lamenting fashion today and talking about how we were “hawt” -Thank you Paris Hilton- and En Vogue back in the day. We would be the sisters in the nursing home channeling our younger years of hairbrush karaoke as we jumped – though in our old age it would be more of a shuffle – from one bed to the other, dancing our hearts out making the Spice Girls proud.
I am positive we would still have crushes on Jeff Timmons and Drew Lachey. And hell, maybe she would even still be obsessed with Hanson. We would probably even laugh and say we would never be scandalized by long hair as our Grandmother had been.
Memories. The future. The what have beens.
Five and a half years have passed.
I celebrated my twenty-first without her.
She celebrated her thirtieth in heaven.
This past year I turned the age she did when she was killed. The irony wasn’t lost on me. For years I had strived to be as old and as mature as she was. Because of death, I finally was her age…though I am sure she would wink at me, laughingly say I was still immature and always her baby sister.
A trip to France where we had joked about her supporting me while I was a starving writer and she an oceanographer, was taken without her.
Moves to new places. Weddings. Trips. A niece and nephews she will never know. Life events she watched from above.
Life goes on. Dreams change. Birthdays and anniversaries are remembered and in the distance those long ago memories resurface. Pulling you into the what might have beens. The moments of long ago.
Bonds don’t disintegrate with death, they live on. they give us strength just when we need them. The memories craved just when we need that burst of strength.
Love doesn’t die. Sometimes we wish it does. The pain stabbing your heart repeatedly, over and over again. But then, that is when it gives us the pleasure of knowing that we experienced love. That we know what it is. That we loved and were loved so deeply that it hurts. I am reminded of a quote from “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” that in the last five and a half years has become more prevalent then when I first read it as an innocent seven year old:
“Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign . . . to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever. It is in your very skin.”
While their is so much she will never know. So much she never did, no matter what, that bond, that love stays with us forever, and though it might be debilitating in our grief. It is also what gives us the strength to go forward and finish the dreams we had created for each other.
So I swipe lip gloss across my lips, sipping a pink martini in your honor. Raising my glass, I softly say, “Happy Thirty-First Birthday Sugar. May you be celebrating on your white fluffy cloud surrounded by light and happiness. Love you forever and and always.”