I lost my younger sister to leukemia twelve years ago. Although it was a long time ago, it's still hard to accept. The one regret I have is that my boys missed out on knowing her as an aunt. They would've adored each other. She had that affect on children because she was so small. Like Yoda or the clairvoyant in Poltergeist - I used to call her Dr. Ruth not just because they were the same size but because people always asked my sister for advice.
She was also, an excellent cook. I'd bet she would have my four-year old eating out of the palm of her hand - literally.
The reason I bring her up is because the other night I had a very drawn out dream with her in it. It had been a while since I'd seen her in dreams and it was strange in that there was no occasion to provoke it. The first year after she died, I had dreams of her almost every night. That dwindled to anniversaries and finally to sporadic memory triggers like hearing her favorite song being used for a car commercial.
This recent dream, however, was odd in many ways. Apart from being unable to figure out why she appeared, she was unusually vocal, too. In most dreams, she's silent - even if I ask her a question. But this time, she called out my name - as neighborhood kids do to come out and play. She told me she had "returned" and was ready to "kick some butt."
That morning, I recounted the dream to my six-year old. He listened intently because he thinks he's a dream analyst. When I was done his response was, "Kick butt like Iron Man?"
I've thought of my sister as a lot of things, but Iron Man was a first.
When the session was over, we went about our business and that's when I noticed white ash was spewed across the alter that enshrines my sister and my father's ashes. I assumed it was the incense burner but then I saw it was intact. What was turned over was the miniature urn which held my sister's ashes.
My first thought was, how do I clean this up with respect?
I couldn't just scoop her up with a sponge and wash it down the sink. Couldn't throw her in the garbage or suck her up with the Dyson! I meticulously collected what I could by hand and what was unable - or unwilling - to return to the urn, I scattered into our garden.
It was fitting. Her name means garden, anyway.
Next came the interrogation.
"What happened?" I asked the boys.
Talk about brotherly love, they sold each other up the river in a split second. There was no loyalty whatsoever. They started off by pointing the finger at each other.
"Well he swung the sword -"
"No, he jumped off the-"
"But he hit the -"
Let's hope these boys never join an organization like the police or the mob that requires having each others back.
They were interrogated separately and it turned out, a Power Rangers fight with the Last Air Bender staff knocked over the urn. It was the day I had my dream. That explained why my sister said she was "ready to kick butt," and why she called out my name.
When all was restored, we each offered incense. Then I gave both my boys a hug - contrary to what they had expected.
They accidentally raised the dead and as a result, I got to see my sister. The way I see it, anytime she pays me a visit, even if it is to "kick butt," it's a wonderful gift.