It's been eleven years since my sister died. She died at a young age, having just turned 31 and she left behind a daughter who was eight and a son, who was five years old at the time. I look at my oldest, Kazuki and realize he is at the same age when my nephew was left without a mother. They are big boys compared to when they were babies, still...they are so small and vulnerable - I can't imagine what Kazuki would do without me.
My little sister, Sono was the quiet storm, as opposed to me who was the raving lunatic. She was definitely more daring and bold but nobody would ever guess that this girl who stood no taller than four foot eleven had the power of the Tasmanian Devil. She played the drums, she made me take her to Scotland - Glasgow of all places, she spent all the cash I saved in my sock drawer on a violin bow and yet I could never be mad at her for long.
She had this way of making people feel like they needed to be around her all the time.
Here, we visited Jenn while she attended Colgate University.
Sono as a young mom - she was twenty-five in this picture.
Needless to say, my father had a tough time losing his youngest daughter. Now that I think about it, we were a very close family, albeit dysfunctional. But back then, to not be dysfunctional was dysfunctional and the success of that TV show "Married With Children" just kind of proved my point.
Everything became a mission for him after she died - but he did put up a pretty good fight. He kept up his silent vigil of living without grief for nine years - going to the YMCA, cleaning the house from top to bottom and replenishing Sono's shrine with fresh water every...single..day. Then he threw in the towel on July 17th, 2008. And I knew that all that time, he secretly longed for one thing: for Sono's children to be part of his life again.
If only life could end resolved like the movies. But I imagine that Sono and our dad are hanging out at their special table somewhere in heaven. I'm not religious but when it comes to the dead - accepting there is a heaven is the easiest way to accept they're gone.
Then again, they may not be completely gone according to my three-year-old, Isamu. He tells me he talks to Gigi (grandpa) all the time. Isamu says that Gigi claims he is not dead and that he's doing fine.
"Oh yeah?" I say. "And what is Gigi doing now?"
"Well...," Isamu says checking to see if I'm really paying attention, "Gigi is trying to tell you that it's time for me to have an ice cream sandwich."
I look at Samu and then I try to detect if indeed my father is trying to send me this important nutritional message concerning frozen dairy. Knowing my dad...it's a distinct possibility.
Sono and Papa (Gigi)
For pictures from the 2010 Memorial service that was held on July 10, 2010 please visit my Facebook Photo Album here.