© 2008 Karen Van Fossan
Since as early as I can remember, June 24th has been a profoundly important day in my life. We celebrate Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandparents' Day, Veterans' Day, Administrative Professionals' Day. But for me, June 24th has always been Sister's Day, the day I became a sister for the first and only time.
I have often wondered, How do you actually be a sister? How necessary is a sister to a brother? He has a mom who does all the mom things, aunts who do the aunt things, grandmothers, a girlfriend, et cetera.
What's my actual purpose in this setup? He's long past needing a babysitter, fashion consultant, chauffeur, advice-giver, book-reader, shoe-tie-er, song-singer, note-writer, snack-saver, or playmate anymore. So who am I?
I flatter myself sometimes as being the person who knows him best in all the world. I knew what made him cry out in the middle of the night, what made his heart open wide, what made him so angry he just about pummeled me to the ground. And I still do.
Maybe I am the keeper of the memory, as the sister. This, I remember well:
My little brother hurts.
I see bleeding on his head.
I'll die if my brother should die.
The doctor stitches him up.
There's no anesthesia for him. So there is none for me.
Let me in that room! Let me stop the needle that makes him scream.
I scream because he screams.
We are screaming.
My mother takes me away. She carries me down the hall, as far as we can go from my brother’s screaming.
Dad is with your brother, she says. Davy will be fine.
Down the hall, I can hear him still. I can always hear him.
I will always cry, if he must cry.
Whew! Thankfully, that's not all I remember:
Talking through the heating vents when we're supposed to be sent to our rooms.
Plotting a doorway from his room to mine.
Taping a box of paper clips inside his Christmas present, so that shaking it would give him false clues.
Watching Perry Mason for real clues.
Finding artwork and notes on my door, Good job!
Dancing like Bo Jangles in the kitchen.
Being a sister, it's not what I remember really, or even how well I know anyone. Mainly, it's how I feel. Love you, bro.