You never forgot my birthday. I will never forget yours. (I still remember you getting diners at Cinelli’s to sing me Happy Birthday.)
It’s been a little over 25 years since you have been gone. The pain in my heart from your death is not as severe but there are always reminders of what I miss. Christmas has never been the same. I remember your unbridled joy for the holidays. You loved the lights, decorating the tree and playing all the Christmas songs (starting with Thanksgiving dinner.) We loved counting all the presents under the family tree on Christmas Eve. However you always held one gift back for everyone—-the one that you knew would bring the most surprise and the most joy.
Even though I was four years older, you were the wiser. Yeah, I had the better grades in school but you were so good and so loved by so many people. You loved life. You took chances. You traveled. You risked your heart. You always smiled. You had so many friends! You were an inspiration to me.
You and I did have some battles. We both knew how to needle one another and sometimes we would have huge verbal wars. But we always had each others back and woe to those who would say something bad about one of us if the other was present.
At my wedding, you happened to get lost finding the park where we were going to take pictures. The wedding photographer wanted to take pictures without you there and I refused to take any pictures till you showed up. It did not make my new wife, Chris happy. However, you did show up, a bit late and had started to party before the rest of us did.
At your funeral service, one of your neighbors mentioned to me how you told them that there was no one else you trusted more than me. I told your neighbor that no one’s opinion or judgment meant more to me. We both leaned on each other for support and that support and love are what I missed so much the past 25 years.
You were my kid sister that I had to protect. I remember you calling me in my early 20s. You were working alone at a Dunkin Donuts, frightened from being harassed by some guys. I hung up the phone and sped to your job wielding a baseball bat and rushing through the store door like a scowling Buford Pusser. Fortunately for them (and me) they had left but you knew I would did my best to always protect you.
However I could not protect you when the nurses told me that you had died during your surgery to have a tumor removed from your brain. It was not an easy surgery. You had noticed my concern prior to your surgery and were even amused that you heard that I, a committed agnostic, had gone to mass. I would have made a deal with the devil if it would have kept you alive. You passed away 10 days after Christmas and a month before your 39th birthday.