Since my little sister dropped out of my life, you know the first thing I read in the newspaper every morning? Not sports. Not the comics. Not the entertainment section. Not the headline story. No, I read the obituaries.
Pretty grim, huh? But, it’s the only way for me to know that someone I loved very much is still in the world.
I wrote (this) post as a letter to my deceased stepmother, who tried to obliterate my existence by overtly excluding me from her will and the things my father always meant for me to have. Well, she was my sister Randi’s real mother. There were other sisters, but Randi was the only one I considered my real sister of the heart. I changed her diapers when she was a baby, spoiled her as a toddler, enjoyed her as a teenager and was best friends with her as an adult.
And then her mother died. I’ll admit that her mother’s death was under traumatic circumstances. Randi walked into the nursing home where she was temporarily being cared for, and found her gasping for breath. When Randi tried to obtain help, the so-called caregivers said they would summon the doctor. Twenty minutes later, after no response, she called 911 and the EMTs got there before anyone at the nursing home did anything! Her mother died in Randi’s arms upon arriving at the hospital. Mable wasn’t long for the world anyway, but her dying due to negligence seemed to scar my sister forever.
Unfortunately, she was named as executor. This responsibility seemed to plunge her further into the abyss. One of Mable’s daughters didn’t even wait until the body was cold before she was telling Randi she “sure could use Mable’s car.” Things apparently got worse from there. Since I didn’t get along with Mable (again, see above post,) I was excluded from “family meetings.” And, as they sorted through Mable’s house, Randi would set aside things that she felt were mine by right. Throughout this whole affair, I tried to be the best sister to her I could possibly be. I let her vent, comforted her through her tears, and offered advice whenever she asked. Randi always assumed that I would get a one-fifth share of my father’s house because that was his wish and because I was his first born. Turns out Mable had other plans. She made sure I got nothing.
The day I lost Randi happened in May, two months after her mother died. I called to ask her to set up a date so I could take her out to lunch for her birthday and give her her presents. I felt that by this time she could use a break and I was only asking for a couple of hours. She started acting evasive and saying she was really busy. I pushed her to just give me a date. She said “July.” I thought she was kidding. She wasn’t. Later I was to discover that that was the statue of limitations for contesting the will.
After all we had been to each other, apparently her “other sisters” had somehow convinced her to cut herself off from me. They were so afraid that if I got a share of something, it would mean less for them. Even as I write this, it’s so hard for me to believe that they succeeded. But I never heard from Randi again after that phone call.
Maybe love makes you blind. But this was the sister with whom I took wonderful, wacky, memorable “sister trips” to New Mexico. This was the sister with whom I shared so many inside jokes, the one who would burst into song with me when we’d hear a stupid commercial. This was the sister who could finish my sentences and I, hers. Together we knew the words to every song of “Petula Clark’s Greatest Hits,” and had dance routines worked out for several of them. I knew the worst about her just as she did me and it didn’t matter. We would get silly together. We would get sad together. This was my baby sister, for crying out loud! She was the only family I had left, the one I thought I could count on – no matter what. And now she’s gone from my life completely. How could she do that? How could she erase me so completely from her life? Did I count for NOTHING? (Sorry about that. Sometimes the hurt overwhelms me.)
And so… every morning I read the obituaries first.
And, if her name’s not there,
I can get through another day.