They always seemed to come in together. They’d look at makeup, get some make overs. Buy and share their clothes. They seemed so happy. Life seemed better because they had each other.
I couldn’t help but feel I had missed out on something huge.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t exchange my brothers for anyone else in the world. But I see the same thing with them. It’s like they’re on this whole other level of sibling relationship because they share a gender. Because they shared so many interests. It’s like they grew up together, but on a whole other level of closeness that I didn’t get to know them on, and that can be painful.
Really what it make me feel is how much I miss my sister.
She had been born with so many medical problems I can’t even begin a list. I probably can’t spell most of those anyway. She would have been severely handicapped, not the sister I would have imagined, but she would be my sister, and I would love her and take care of her. We would still share clothes. I would be happy to do her hair and makeup. She wouldn’t be able to do much for me in return, but I would do what I could to give her everything. Even at my own expense.
That’s the worst part of losing someone so young, you never really know them. You never know their capacity or their personality. You just know the what ifs. The potential. The possibilities. You wish you could have them back, just so you could know. I’ll admit. Death often makes me selfish. It makes me want people for my own closure. For my own comfort. For one more person to pour my time into just a little bit longer.
For real though, I wish I had her back. Shamelessly.
A few years ago I had realized we didn’t have much around acknowledging she had once existed as part of our family. Only a single hand crafted plaque my uncle had made for us after she passed away. It hung in our family room. Lonely on a vacant wall. It bothered me we didn’t have more. So I took it upon myself to make sure her existence was properly implied in our house. It was a selfish move. But I felt like I needed it.
For Christmas that year I had made a typographic family tree of my immediate family. I had a lot of time I spent in my school Mac lab, and I between design assignments I did my own thing. I included her name as well after hours of thinking about it. I wouldn’t frame them. I would let mom do it if she so chose. It only seemed fair after all. Part of me was worried though. Part of me was afraid that my parents had done that with reason. Was it too painful to remember her for them? I didn’t know. I knew my own hurt. My own loss. It had to be different than theirs. But, just because her existence was shorter lived than mine didn’t mean we had to completely ignore it. There was justice in my actions….as well as selfishness.
Thankfully, they loved it.
For my parents anniversary that same year, I bought them a little marble statue of our family. Two parents and 4 children. I had debated Over and over in my head if I should get it or not. Was I pushing the point too much? Was I obsessing over the dead? Yeah. I was. But I didn’t want to ignore the dead has once been living. I wanted it to be celebrated. To be remembered. We went through a lot as a family and made it through. Why not?
They loved that too. It currently sits in our living room next to some very colorful flowers in memory of my sister.
After that I recall having a conversation with my mom. We spoke about moving. I expressed my disinterest and one of the many points I made to my mother was I didn’t want to leave because this was where my sister was. It wasn’t a lie. I didn’t want to leave her here alone. I can’t say why. Up until this point I hadn’t realized that was such a big concern to me. My mother responded very graciously to me, by reminding me she was in our memories, hearts, and the arms of Jesus. We were no longer needed.
I felt indignant. She was right though. My baby sister didn’t need me anymore. That was even more painful to hear than we were abandoning her grave. That we were no longer required. We did our job. It was over.
Twenty-three years of trying to be the big sister that wasn’t even needed. I felt foolish. I spent so many years angry at God over her passing, but I had realized now I had assumed He took her from me. He took her from us. But what it came down to was that very phrase she didn’t need us anymore. She was better off where she was. My sorrow and mourning was allowed but not necessary. I was free of a cage I had built myself.
That day forward I didn’t buy or make anything else to impress her memory further. I realized I didn’t need it either. She was always there.
In the back of my mind. In my memory. On my heart.