You are Beautiful and I Love You

My sister died today. Though I knew deep down that she would die young, I am stunned. When the phone call came today, I knew it was bad news before I picked it up.

It’s not like she was sick, per se, I mean she was sick, but not in the conventional sense. When I say I wasn’t surprised, I meant, she’d been dying for years. She was in a lot of pain for a long time, and actually had reasons for the pain. But, drug addiction is cancer of the soul – and Goddamn – just God-Fucking-Damn-It, all you can fucking do is helplessly wait for death to come. It’s like – ok, this-is-what-happens-which-we-knew-was-going-to-happen-and-now-it-has-happened.

So this sucks.

For most of our lives, our relationship was strained. But, we had some amazing times, too. We drove across the country together in her cream-colored 65 Mustang when I was 18 years-old. It was my first time to Arizona and I stayed in Flagstaff on that trip! We were amazed by the pine trees and how fresh the air was. And the red rocks in Sedona were like nothing we’d ever seen! I’m glad she saw them.

heather circa 1989
Heather, 21 years old. Just before our drive to California – circa 1989

When we returned to New Jersey, our relationship fell apart. For 24 years we couldn’t get our shit together to just be sisters and love one another.

Until this last year.

I am grateful that for the last nine months, she and I were communicating in a good way. I reached out to her last winter while I was going through a hard time, and, she was so fucking clear. She helped me walk through the dark. She was fierce. She told me I was good, and generous, and compassionate, and I decided to fucking believe her.

We made a pact. For three months we tried an experiment. We decided to write to each other every day, “You are beautiful, and I love you” – just to get used to it, ya know, just to get used to how it feels to be loved. And we promised each other that we would not put up with not being cared about and loved by the people in our lives – especially in our romantic relationships.

And it really helped. A lot. It meant a lot. Coming from her from my fractured family, it meant a lot.

Anyway, after three months, we just kept writing to each other.

Love is good. Why stop?