take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

You were beautiful.

"Don't look at me!" you muttered to the staff outside the main room. But how could they not?

I heard the "ahhh" as the assembled guests in the room saw first the two little nieces, holding hands, dressed in pink, then you, luminous, arm in arm with our brother, in loco parentis. Then me, following behind, barely able to look up, only once to find Big with my eyes and return his smiling, gentle wink, but trembling, clutching the bouquet.

I remember only fragments of the ceremony, mostly being occupied with the effort it took to remain composed as poignant words were spoken with shaking voices. We in the front row independently and silently resolved not to look at each other, though we could sense the struggle in the others as we gulped back the tears. I heard your name - your full name, your middle name, our mother's name. A reminder of the gaping hole. I remember our brother-in-law delivering his reading with less gusto than is normal for him. His voice faltered, his eyes glistened - we sympathised.

The ceremony over with, we relaxed a little, but we knew there was more to come. Later, the heartfelt speech from your new husband and his toast to "absent friends" was another catalyst for our eyes to fill and our lips to tremble.

Because we'd been saying for some time that your wedding would be a "blub-fest". The first wedding in our family without mum. Yet another wedding without dad - the dad that you and I can barely remember. The three grandchildren they would never know, though perhaps they see them, perhaps they watch over them.

I wonder how many of your guests knew that just five days before your wedding, you had gone back to the clinic for the results of the biopsy. I wonder how many of them knew that a few weeks before that, you'd found that lump. I wonder how many of them knew that, although the biopsy had suggested that the lump was benign, the doctor was still concerned and booked you in to have it removed, a few days after you return from your honeymoon.

I suppose our bad genes were not content with giving you a rare, congenital heart condition, necessitating bypass surgery at the age of 21 and lifelong medication. I suppose they didn't think that the loss of both parents to cancer by the time you were 28 was sufficient. I guess they reckoned that a younger sister diagnosed with a rare, lifelong, auto-immune disease at the age of 34 and treated with chemotherapy wasn't quite enough for them.

Sometimes, I want to scream: "FOR FUCK'S SAKE, JUST LEAVE US ALONE!"

To whom, to what? I don't know. Whoever or whatever it is that has cursed the health of our family, please, just leave us alone.

Through it all, though, you smiled, you laughed, you danced.

You shone like a star, my sister.

You were beautiful.

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