When I was a little boy, I forced myself to stay awake one night after being convinced by my big sister that a spaceship would soon be coming to pick me up. Apparently, a monumental intergalactic war was taking place, and my help was desperately needed if the good guys were to prevail. In the morning, Christine had quite a chuckle.
And then, there was the “May Procession” incident.
In the 1960s, our (Catholic) parish held an event every May honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary. There was always band music, a parade through the nearby streets of the town, and a crowning of Mary’s statue with a wreath of flowers.
“O Mary, we crown Thee with blossoms today, Queen of the angels, Queen of the May…”
I remember it well.
Now, I look back on those events with great fondness and admiration; however, on one unusually hot “May Procession” day, this diminutive (yet stubborn) parochial school student didn’t want to march. My mother’s pleas fell on deaf ears; so, her secret weapon – Christine – was deployed.
My big sister took me aside, saying that she had something really special to show me. In the palm of her hand, she displayed two thick, but otherwise ordinary, rubber bands.
“Do you know what these are, Stephen?” she asked, before answering her own question. “These are very special rubber bands, the kind that baseball players like Mickey Mantle use to hold up their socks. I’ll give them to you if you march in the procession.”
Resistance was futile. Of course, I marched. Christine could always convince me.
When I was seven, my parents purchased our first dog, a smart, frisky miniature poodle. One morning, the front door was accidentally left ajar and our new puppy ran outside. Christine, still in her pajamas, bolted out the door to catch her. I watched out the window as passers-by laughed at the sight. I teased her about that for years… and, I wish I could tease her still.
In prayer this morning, I suddenly became aware that I’ve now lived longer without my big sister than with her. With that realization came tears, surprisingly ferocious tears, like those I cried on January 27th, 1985.
I’m not sure why the particular memories mentioned above came to mind today, but I treasure them all.
Christine was beautiful in every sense of the word. Phony space adventures aside, I’ve never known a kinder, more thoughtful, more faithful human being in all my years, and I’ve known a great many wonderful people.
I loved her so. And, you would have too. Everyone did.
P.S. I’ve written previously about my sister in the essay Hearts and Treasures. If you’ve never done so, you might check out this entry: https://musingsamidthethorns.com/2013/08/21/hearts-and-treasures/. It speaks to the depth of her character.
Your sister Christine, my sister Mary. Gone too soon.
Here’s what came to me at Eucharistic Adoration one day shortly after my sister Mary died.
~ Connectedness ~
God, life, brought us together, Family, fun, friends-forever.
Feelings, Fragility, Fights, Fear, Forgiveness, Faithfulness,
Our relationship grew tenacious love roots.
Life happened, life-time passed, illness came.
We connected, we prayed together
as one to the God of Love and compassion,
Our Common denominator, our first, last, and only hope.
Why, plus anger, plus fear,
and God’s typical response
love, respect, caring, laughter, faith, good things.
Blessings, Hopes, Gifts, Joy, Peace,
Time, friend and also enemy of life.
Dreaded death came, foe of life, yet with faith, gentle friend.
You left, now I am left, saddened, crying, lonesome.
You are gone never to return,
(Hardest part of loving, vulnerability to pain and suffering)
But well worth the pain that will come, inevitably.
We shall reconnect in eternity, but now how?
In Christ, In Eucharist.
You are in Glory, perfectly In Christ.
I open to and receive, Eucharist, the perfect Christ.
You are in Christ,
Christ is in me,
and we are all one,
each in THE OTHER.
Larry, that is remarkably beautiful. I’m sorry for your loss, my friend. In the Kingdom, perhaps you, Mary, Christine, and I can dance together before our King. (Melinda and Marianne are welcome too, of course.)
Steve, you left me teary-eyed. I do so wish I could have known Christine (though I am confident and excited to meet her some day hence at the wedding feast of the Lamb!). Steve, I am so glad that God has given me the opportunity to know you here.
Larry, friend of my friend, what a beautiful piece of writing as well. Thank you for sharing it!
I am blessed to have such brothers in Christ!
Kevin, thank you for your kind words. I too believe that you will meet Christine some day and that it will be an occasion joyful beyond our imagination. I thank God for your friendship.
Steve, what can I say after reading such a beautiful and heartfelt piece? Each time you write something in your (and often in our) past, I am flooded with many happy memories. It’s the passing of time, I suppose, that allows us to smile even as we recall the life events that, although inevitable, come with a blow that seems to crush our hearts. I feel blessed that I had the privilege to know Christine and to even share in some of the fun antics of our youth. Today I will say a very special prayer for Christine and thank God for the gift of her life and for the love she freely shared with others. We all need those alien invaders and those extra-special rubber bands to help us to focus on our own journies Home! Peace and strength to you, Steve!
Paul, although we seldom cross paths these days, I always sense the deep connection we share in our life-long friendship. Thank you for your kind and gracious response to my little essay. I’m grateful that you knew (and loved) Chris and that she knew (and loved) you. Blessings to you and your beautiful family!