Yes, I know you don’t remember this, but that is what you used to call yourself when you were three or so. People would ask you what your name was, and you would smile and proudly shout, “CHRISSY PETTY!!” You were so cute. I didn’t see you often as our father had divorced both of our mothers by this time. Our dad was never one to spend oodles of time with his four kids. So, we hung out with our dad and our two brothers a few times before you and your brother moved to Texas with your mom.
Do you remember that weird church our father took us to? I don’t know why this is such a vivid memory for me. Maybe it is because church has always made me uncomfortable. You weren’t a big church fan either. Anyway, I was about eleven and you were three or four. It was one of those churches that wasn’t in a church really, but some kind of shopping plaza. I don’t remember the service. I just remember carrying you around, and pinching your chubby little cheeks. I loved you to pieces and I wished we had a “normal” family where we all lived with the same mother and father, but our father ruined all of that for us. He just couldn’t be the father and husband type of guy.
I visited your mom and my dad a few times at the house in Miami. One time, I remember he got really mad about something and banged his hand on the counter so hard that the loose change that was there flipped up in the air. I don’t know why I remember that. It just stuck with me. That might have been before you were born. I also remember making a house out of a refrigerator box with your older brother.
Our father lived in a couple of different places when he separated from your mom. I remember the townhouse the best. I remember thinking it was so cool that he had stairs because I had always lived in small apartments. This is the place where we played ET on the Nintendo. I never really got into video games, but you loved them your whole life. You played them until the very end. My son just told me that he chatted with you just a couple of days before you died about the pros and cons (mostly cons) of buying the Walking Dead video game. He liked you and thought you were cool. He really loved that picture you drew of him. Thank you for always treating him like a nephew even though you never met him. It’s amazing how you can get to know people online.
The last time I saw you in person was at our father’s funeral. Like you, he died too young. Though, at forty-nine he lived longer than your brief thirty-five years. Our genetics do not react kindly to obesity. You and your brother, and I say your brother so that I don’t use names here in this public forum; anyway, you guys were running around the funeral home. You were both still so young. I think you were eight and maybe your brother was ten or eleven by this time. You almost knocked over the casket at one point. I didn’t know whether to laugh or scowl. You see; I was fifteen then. So, I was super cool and so above running around. I was more worried about boys than mourning the father I barely knew. I was also busy being rude to people who said, “I’m sorry for your loss.” I would tell them, “Why? Did you kill him?” or “I barely knew the man.” Both of those statements were true, but I probably should have held them in. People looked so uncomfortable when I said things like that. I didn’t give a shit.
I didn’t hear from you for eighteen years after that. Then, one day in 2005, my phone rang. You had found me on the Internet. This shocked me because I had tried “Googling” both of my Texas brothers. Do you have any idea how common your names are? I was so glad you found me. I instantly bought you a plane ticket to come to my wedding. You ended up having kidney stones and not being able to make it. I always wondered if you really had kidney stones or if I had just pressured you to fly hundreds of miles to come to my wedding and you didn’t know how to say no. I’m sorry I was too pushy if that was the case.
I’m also sorry for not being a phone person. There were a couple of times that I did not return your calls. I hate the phone, but I wish I had tried more to be there for you.
Thank you for talking me into getting a MySpace page and a FaceBook page all those years ago. You told me it would help us stay in touch, and it did. It also helped me keep in touch with a lot of other people. So, thank you for pushing me into the twenty-first century.
When I got the voicemail from our oldest brother telling me that you had died, I was instantly stunned. I’ve been stunned ever since. It’s like all of this isn’t real. Just like with our father, I had counted on tomorrow. I was thinking there would be a time when I would finally get to Texas to visit you and the family. I thought I had time. We never really have all the time we need do we?
Wherever you are, whether it is in heaven as the Christians believe, or in another life as the Buddhists believe, or just nowhere, I am glad that you are no longer in pain. You no longer feel any anxiety, or illness. Rest in Peace, baby brother.
Your big sister
Recently, I was having coffee with a friend and we were talking about his mother, who had recently passed away. She had a short, but difficult bout with cancer, which she opted not to fight as it was advanced. For a while, it seemed like she was getting better, but then a sudden clue told the family that she was close to death. She stopped smoking. She had been a smoker for over fifty years, and she suddenly quit. She smoked her last cigarette on a Monday, and died on a Friday. This got me thinking about my habits, or things I’m known for, and I made a list of ways people will know I am dying.
- I will stop writing snarky blogs. Well, I will probably stop writing altogether.
- I will stop scooping litter boxes every two hours. Seriously, I am a fanatic about litter
boxes. I have three cats and two dogs, but I don’t want my house to smell like I do.
- I will stop noticing when things are dirty. I may have mentioned that I am a neat freak. I am constantly cleaning something. If my house is ever a mess, worry about me.
- I stop rolling my eyes at political and religious posts on Facebook. Seriously, my eyes will roll out of my head one day. That may be what kills me.
- I will lose interest in Facebook. I LOVE finding old friends on Facebook. Without social media, I would be wondering whatever happened to all of my high school buddies. Now, I know. If I were dying, I wouldn’t care.
- I will stop baking. I love to make cookies and muffins. It’s like I have a quest to fatten everyone up. If I am terminally ill, people in my life will go down a size.
- I will stop yelling at the dogs for barking. Well, maybe not. I think barking would be more annoying then.
Well, on that note, I’m going to go enjoy some ice cream and trash TV. I’ve already burned the calories from cleaning the kitchen and vacuuming.