I couldn’t think of a good title for this. I thought of Happy Birthday, but that would be too misleading. Today is my sister’s birthday. My sister who has now been dead as long as she was alive. She would have been 34 today. It is impossibly hard to imagine what the 34-year-old version of my sister would look like based on what she looked like at 17. For the first few years after she died, I talked about her quite a bit. Then I went through a period of not talking about her at all. I was meeting new people, who almost always eventually asked, “Do you have any brothers or sisters?” Rather than complicate things, I would say no. But then sometimes people would start going on about how it must be hard to be an only child or sympathize because they, too, were only children. But I was an only child from age 21 on. Not quite the same. No matter what I said, it was complicated. And it always made people uncomfortable.
More than I wonder what my sister would look like, I wonder what our relationship would look like. Would we live near each other? Would we talk to each other once a week? Would she have children that would visit me for a while in the summers? Would we go on vacation together? Or would we have drifted apart or gotten into a huge fight which ended in our not speaking to each other ever again? I think that last option is not likely. We were close and had gotten closer as our parents were going through a divorce just before she died.
Most of the time, these anniversaries pass by unnoticed. I notice my sister’s absence more often at family events. I will likely think about it when Geeky Boy graduates high school. Sometimes I think about her when I want to talk to someone who knows my history in a way that I don’t have to explain it.
It’s interesting how these events mark your life, but eventually become a faint scar about which you have a good story to tell. And yet, you keep rubbing the scar again and again, so that sometimes you feel the original pain.