I think many people experience this: The fear that after the death of someone we love, we might somehow forget them. That we might not honor them by remembering them every minute of every day. That we might no longer vividly see their faces in our memories. Or hear their voices clearly in our minds. And that, somehow, if we don’t remember every little detail every moment of our lives, we have betrayed them and the memory of them, and that we never loved them enough in the first place.
I’ve talked plenty about my sister, Dale. She was 2 years and 9 months my senior. She died when she was 29, almost half-way through the year to her 30th birthday. She never met Jerry. She wasn’t around when I came out of the closet (although I know she knew, probably long before I did). She wasn’t around to see me move west and then east again and north and then west again. And on and on. She wasn’t around, thankfully, when our father had cancer (three times in five years) and then died. Nor, again thankfully, when our mother was hit by a car. She wasn’t around to see our brother gain his independence and grow into the person he’s become. She wasn’t around to see The Dowager Duchess’s hair turn white (or mine fall out while turning gray). She wasn’t around to even know that I call our mother The Dowager Duchess and not “Mum” like she called her with her late-developing English accent.
She’s missed a lot in the last 31-1/2 years. Or maybe she hasn’t. Maybe she’s seen it all. I know she’s somewhere within me every step of the way. She died on a Saturday in March. I have tried over the years to not dwell on that date. It was only one day, and it wasn’t a very good one. Well, let’s be honest and say it sucked big time. She was born on a Wednesday in September. I have never forgotten that day and, over the years, I’ve tried to celebrate it instead of mourning it.
So, it was a shock this week when I looked at the date and realized I had missed it. I had missed writing a blog post about her. I had missed mentioning the day to Jerry. I was so angry with myself. ‘How could I have forgotten her?’ I demanded. She’s still in my thoughts ever single day, not every minute, but definitely every day. I used to obsess about her birthday. I was depressed building up to it, depressed on the day — no matter how much I said I was celebrating it — and depressed for weeks after. So how could it have slipped by? Didn’t I care anymore? Then I realized, I had returned from my trip to New York five days earlier. My jet lag was the pits and I then was sick in bed — miserably sick in bed, unable to sleep, with no interest in food, and overwhelmingly depressed. And that miserable, sick-in-bed, don’t-want-to-live day was Dale’s birthday.
But now, time to move on. Dale would definitely have said long before this point, “A’right a’ready. Stop being such a killjoy!
|YO-YO SIS. SHE NEVER COULD PLAY THE CELLO.|
So, a’right a’ready! Dale taught me how to ice skate. She taught me how to dance. She was really good at both, but I never let myself go the way she could. So, when we were kids (Dale was already in her teens), before any event (wedding, bar mitzvah, school event) she would drag me into her room, turn on her “record player,” and make me dance with her. Thanks to Dale, I could do a bunch of the steps performed on stage by The Temptations — never very useful at a bar mitzvah unless I was going to be a back-up singer for “Walter Lebow and His Orchestra.” I don’t know how much more useful it was to line-dance, stomping my feet and clapping my hands to the beat of “Glad All Over” by The Dave Clark Five. But it was definitely fun.
Thinking of you, Dale, and feeling glad all over!