I visited my Sister's grave yesterday for the first time in a long time. It was her Birthday and I had spent the entire day thinking about her, so I talked myself into paying her a little visit. It's very hard to bring myself there, but I knew it would be a good place to be alone with my thoughts as it's a safe place to cry, and a quiet place to talk out loud.
Standing over her grave, I thought about all the things we would have in common if she was still here. Her being twenty-three and me twenty-six, I bet we'd be the best of friends - no different than before. I wondered how would she celebrate her big day and quickly realized it would be like every other Birthday, starting off with Eggo Waffles soaked in syrup while she watched A Baby Story, A Wedding Story and What Not To Wear. She would have made her way up to our pool or down to the beach where she'd sit with her favorite book, a bag of Munchies and a cold can of Nestea. She'd be listening to her favorite music in her van and dreading any kind of party Mom was planning because she hated when people made a fuss over her. She never enjoyed the excitement of a party, she only ever wanted to spend quality time with those she loved most. Us.
Through watering eyes I read CHRISTINE ELIZABETH on the big, black block of granite. There was a strange feeling of unfamiliarity seeing her full name written on the stone, like it had been ages since I've seen it written on anything. Between sobs, with a cracking voice, I said her name over and over and even hearing her full name said out loud was strange. I continued to say it in hopes that the strangeness of it would go away, and even changed my voice to say it the way she would. It's no surprise that saying, "Tristine Ewizabet" finally brought a smile to my face.
Happy memories and sad memories raced through my head faster than I could organize them. One memory after another, skipping years ahead and then going back so long in time I wondered how I even remembered them at all. I pictured her and my Dad dancing in the kitchen while Mom made brunch. I remembered when we'd pretend to film, "Cooking With Chris" and how I would do everything in my power to convince her that Kraft Dinner was not going to kill her. I remember gathering all the pillows and blankets we owned to make the best floor bed for Disney marathons on Friday nights. I closed my eyes and saw her doodling in her sketchbooks and reading her favorite book for the tenth time. I imagined her browsing through Chapters, sitting at her computer typing and I saw her excited face on Christmas morning.
Then the heartache set in as I thought of the hundred times she would call and Facebook me throughout the day when I lived away, and how sometimes I just didn't want to talk. I didn't have the time or the desire to talk for the third time that day and I often made up excuses. I remembered the times I would poke fun at her for wanting to watch The Magic School Bus, telling her it was a baby show and wishing she'd watch something I liked instead...
... And of course, as I sat 6 feet over, I remembered the yellow and black dress that Mom picked out for her for the last time. I imagined her wearing those purple glasses with the fake diamonds on the arms, her favorite blanket resting over her little body, and all her books at her side.
I cried and cried. Sitting on my knees I ran my hands through the blades of green grass in denial that she was gone long enough for them to grow in so thick. I looked around at the weathered stones and runaway weeds and it pained me to think that time will continue to pass, years will go by, and this will not get easier.
There is nothing I wouldn't give to hear Ms. Frizzle's voice coming from my Mom and Dad's living room again. To hear the phone ringing and know it was her, to see her face, to touch her skin or to hear her voice, I would give anything.
But, she's gone. It's written in stone.