September 26th, 2011 is the second anniversary of my sister’s death. As the order of life goes, her passing was unnatural. I am six years older, a natural order dictates that I was to be the first one to pass the veil, but that didn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not eager to find out what awaits us on the other side, and fully intend to remain here as long as I can. I just wanted her to do the same, then come join me when she was a ripe old age.
Christine and I were as different as day is to night. She was a Coach bag, Fendi, Gucci, kind of girl. As for me, I am truly happy with fashion bug, marshalls, and so on. I married very young, and spent the first twenty years of that marriage primarily raising three children with my husband. She, on the other hand, married Billy a bit later in life, was a successful career woman, and always enjoyed the finer things in life until illnesses began to define her.
Despite all our differences no one could make each of us laugh like we could each other. From the time we were very young children, we did some improbable things.
As a child I had a four-poster bed, located in my tiny bedroom. On Saturday mornings, still in our pajamas, we would each take our stance, on the bed, diagonally from one another. On the count of three we would race across that small, single, bed to crash in the middle, loudly engaging in our wrestling match. She was six years younger, but boy she could hold her own. Usually, it would end in my pinning her, and tickling until she begged for mercy. No one ever got hurt except from laughing so hard. You know the kind of laughter that makes you hold your stomach and yell, stop, stop.
There are so many times, over the years, where we played games, or related events that caused us to collapse with laughter. It seems we both had a knack for telling a story. We carried on so, that many times, even our husbands thought we were over the top.
One of my favorite stories, and one that I related many times, I will tell once more here.
A year after Jim and I bought the house in Patchogue, my mother and grandmother were invited to come live with us. East Harlem was becoming more and more crime riddled with young thugs and muggers. It was time they left before one or both became a statistic. An apartment was made for mom and grandma, in our house, with a bedroom for Christine for when she visited. My sister had gotten an apartment in Queens with two roommates, but this was Christmas time and she was here (home) for the holidays.
As it happened this particular Christmas, I was so very sick with the flu. After having finished wrapping the last-minute gifts I was lying on the couch in the family room. As was my custom at the time, all the Holiday cards I received were strung across the front of the fire-place, row upon row. Perhaps seven or eight rows in all.
Since she was a little girl I had always teased my sister, and, as I said, we were as different as day and night. Her taste in Christmas cards ran to tasteful and arty, mine to traditional Santa Claus and snowflakes. You get the picture.
This evening, as I was lying there, it was just she and I in the room. The children were nestled all snug in their beds (finally), Jim was on an 8 PM to 4 AM tour, and my mother and grandmother downstairs in their little apartment. For want of conversation Christine asked me if I liked the christmas card she had sent me. Being me, I told her the truth as I saw it, “No, it’s the ugliest card I got.”
With that she jumped up to stand in front of the fireplace. “Oh no it isn’t!”
I challenged her to find me one uglier. She viewed all the cards for quite some time, finally finding one she thought was really ugly. I opened my eyes to look at it. Damn she was right, I had to admit it was more awful than the one she had sent. Christine was ecstatic, she bested me. I asked her who sent that card.
She read the signature aloud, “Merry Christmas, Love your sister, Christine.”
Oh my God, we were both shocked. We laughed so hard I fell off the couch, and she right to the floor. We made so much noise that my mother and grandmother came running up, thinking we had a fight, and had reverted to wrestling. After about fifteen minutes we caught our breath. Where in hell did this card come from? Christine swore she never sent it. She had sent the arty one. That’s when my mother sheepishly confessed.
Mom was concerned that my sister would forget to send me a card, she knew how much I loved receiving them. So she sent me one and signed my sister’s name. Well, on this, Christine couldn’t win. That Christmas she sent me two of the ugliest cards that I received. How I wish I was getting another one this coming year.
I miss you and I love you. Always in my heart, my kid sister, Christine.