by Bella Rum
Image: The Sisters – Emile Claus
Today is my sister’s birthday. I still think about her all the time. We were close and we shared a lot of DNA. We were the two in the family who looked the most alike. Once, when she was visiting, I loaned her my coat. We were driving along in the car. I looked over at her, and I had the strangest feeling. Wearing my coat, she looked so much like me. I never said a word, but she must have read it in my face because she started to laugh, and then so did I. We laughed and laughed and never said a word. It was so strange, and I know that I’m not replicating the moment properly for you. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be retold.
I thought about her yesterday when I was writing that post about happy endorphins. Life was very grim for her toward the end of her life. She suffered, and she became so weak that she could barely talk. I would call her and regale her with family stories. I rattled on about our craziest relatives and their latest escapades. I stretched the boundaries of truth until the strings whined, and the tires screeched at every curve. I buffed it and tweaked it and shined it till it glistened in all the right places, until I got what I wanted, until I heard that laugh. I refused to stop until she begged me. After she died, my nieces and her husband told me that in the last months of her life, she only laughed when she talked to me. I know they said that to be kind, but I also know it was true, not like some of the tiny stretches in my stories.
The saddest thing she ever said to me was, “When I get better, I’m going to really live.” She worried so much about what others thought of her. Every slight was a full blow. Every pick was a deep gouge. When she saw life slipping away, she finally recognized the fallacy in living a life that absorbs the slights of others.
So laugh a lot with those you love, and don’t give too much credence to those who sit in judgment of you. Maybe it really is as simple as that.
Happy birthday, sister.