It’s hard to imagine that my sister would be sixty years old today. She died young, still beautiful and blonde, just thirty-eight and newly married for the third time.
She was lovely–funny and complicated, confused and brilliant, dramatic and sad, impish and courageous, fiercely loyal and protective about the people she loved. She’d also been issued about ten million times the amount of empathy that the rest of us were given. She suffered over every slight received by every person, anywhere in the world. (Thank goodness she never had to deal with the internet, with iphone videos, with the 24-hour news cycle.) Songs could make her cry, memories from third grade could make her cry, commercials on television for dog food and McDonalds could make her cry.
Also, she was possibly addicted to a substance or three.
She loved Taco Bell and trips to the Christmas Tree Shoppe. She loved my children with the passion of a dedicated auntie, and gave them gum and sips of her Pepsi even when I didn’t approve of such sugary things. She loved to dance and go to rock concerts. She loved taking long drives in the car with the aim of getting lost somewhere she’d never been. She loved the beach and singing rock ‘n roll songs at the very top of her lungs. And she loved her cats, all of whom she swore were actually people wearing cat suits.
Once when she was a teenager, she was standing on her bed singing/screaming along to a Doors song, and jumping up and down, and she swore she saw God.
She had a fascination with death, and read every account of suicide she could find. Sometimes–mostly during Februaries–she would try it herself, half-heartedly. Just a little teeny tiny attempt, a protest that life had better shape up. Later she would tell me she never really meant to kill herself. She wanted to live.
But then one snowy night in February, she apparently changed her mind about the wanting to live part, and swallowed enough pills to make sure she didn’t wake up. She left us all a note in which she carefully and painstakingly explained how much better off we would all be without her. To me, she wrote simply: “I am so sorry.”
The last time I saw her alive was a week before she died, and we sat in a Taco Bell together, eating chicken soft tacos and drinking Pepsi, talking about how great it was to be alive and how all our problems were behind us and how we were going to be such fantastic old ladies together.
“Sisters forever!” she said, and we toasted with our plastic cups and smiled.