I was telling stories tonight.
I do love to tell stories.
For the last thirty years, my sister has made me laugh. All the things we shared, over time, if they were piled up, they'd reach the top of the World Trade Center towers.
Ah, but they are gone, too.
When I was little, before my parents divorced, I would sneak into her bed. My parents would be fighting, horrible fights, and I'd crawl into her bed. She would talk to me about... anything and everything. The dishes would break downstairs, my mother yelling (my father never raised his voice), and she would talk to me.
A few years later, after my parents divorced, on Christmas Eve, I swore I heard the piano playing. I scampered into my sister's room. She told me it was the Madonna. A ceramic statue a good friend of my mother had made. I was terrified and stayed glued to her for the rest of the night.
In reality, it was probably the cat walking across the piano keys. They all teased me for years about my fear and my absolute belief in my sister's word that it was the Madonna. My mother, in good humor, gave me the statue. I still have it. And every Christmas Eve, I wait to hear it play the piano.
Thanks to my sister, I actually have a piano. She was waiting for the Madonna to strike this year.
As we grew older, there was a real tension in my family. My sister was toxic. My mother hated her, always upset with her, and to be close was a big giant naughty.
The final fight they had, when she kicked my sister out of the house at 17 years old, I remember wishing she would go. I had enough of the constant battle. I watched my mother rip a shirt off her because it was "inappropriate," a hippy, thin, embroidered shirt. They fought all the time. I wanted my sister gone.
And then she was. I have always felt terrible for that.
Of course, as soon as my sister left, I ran after her. She moved in with my father and insisted he move to Fairport. They had a half a house, by the brick oven pizza place. I would go over and smoke cigarettes with my friends. Oh, we could be bad there. She was the coolest older sister on the face of the earth.
I looked up to her.
My mother hated that.
Cathy never went to college. She went to hair cutting school- hated it. Worked at an answering service- hated it. Went to real estate school- loved it until it required actual work. She worked at the Parks department for a while, hated it, and then she caught the entrepreneurial bug. There was a second hand clothes store. There was a spa. There was a Harley Davidson shop. There was a tee shirt printing business.
And about a thousand other ideas that went through her head.
Over the years, I probably read about 15 different business plans. I listened to many more ideas but actual plans? 15. Maybe 20.
She wanted a million dollars and she wanted it easy.
I was always there to listen.
When I was in college, she came to visit me once. After a day, she got so sick from her anxiety, she had to leave. I was only four hours from our home, but she couldn't take it.
It was, I knew, just the way my sister was. Still, I looked up to her. She was the ultimate bad girl.
She lived with a pair of strippers. No, really, she did. I remember going to her house and her saying they were "dancers." My mother called them prostitutes. I guess they were something bad, because I loved going over. The women were nice to me- I was the little sister. Homely, totally butch, I was enthralled with their ... um... confidence.
And there was my sister, completely overweight, with her frizzy 1970's hair and pink rimmed glasses. Still the coolest in my book.
One Christmas eve, when I was in college, we both decided to drink stingers. Stingers are brandy and creme de menthe. Probably the most disgusting drink ever invented. We got hammered. My mother was so pissed. It was her job to get hammered and there was my sister and I, laughing, being bad.
It was so much fun.
She had many boyfriends over the years, all pretty nasty. One she married. I remember my mother buying me a dress and shoes for the wedding. Yes, I wore a dress to my sister's wedding. We laughed about that, too.
She only stayed married a few years. The guy was a jerk, and after he spent one too many nights at the strip club, she left him. We talked and talked and talked on the phone. Men came and went but I was always there, always.
Eventually, she became addicted to a new form of communication. It was AOL. Online, we would chat for hours. She met a new guy, after the one who burned his penis on the grill, who promised her adventure.
Oh, my sister was ready for adventure.
They traveled the country, and ended up in Tombstone Arizona. She suddenly loved motorcycles, because he did. She opened a Harley shop in Tombstone, the Hawg Corral. It didn't work out, nor did the guy. He ended up arrested for being involved in a child pornography ring. She swore she never knew what he was doing.
I believed her. I always did.
Different men, different times, would introduce her to something new, and something she was completely in love with. She wanted to be loved so desperately. She was obese and thought she had to give herself away to be loved.
But I loved her.
My mother hated how much we were attached to each other. Once, a friend of my mother asked how often we talked- we didn't want to admit it was almost daily. We weren't suppose to do that.
We did, though. Always laughing. Always dreaming.
I can't believe she's gone.
One minute, she was here, getting ready to do a stem cell transplant. The next? She moved to Rochester. There, they weren't sure it was the right thing to do. Understandably, they wanted to do more tests. She was a curious case, with a difficult diagnosis.
Sicker and sicker, she was relieved she didn't have to start chemo right away. But her body betrayed her, festering a horrible infection. She became septic, and lost her mind. When they finally went in for an emergency surgery on Saturday night, they found the flesh eating bacteria all over her body. They removed as much as they could. She never woke up from that surgery.
There has been some debate about whether or not I took good enough care of her. Maybe I didn't. Maybe I did. The reality is, when she left for Rochester? I knew she was going to die. I knew I had to let go.
We removed her from the life support on Monday. She died peacefully on Tuesday. When no one was in the room, I told her stories. I relived all the times we had together. I told her to let go. She had been through enough pain.
Some say I wasn't there for my sister. I will admit I took care of my kids first. I did.
But I loved my sister. And she loved me. No one can ever take that away.
I can't believe she's gone.