On March 7, 2003, I woke up, got Brighid up for school, got Eilis up and dressed, and got ready to drive Brighid to school. My sister Bean lived with me, and she was still sleeping when I left.
When I came home, I went in to wake her up. She had gone to bed early the night before, complaining of a stomach bug. We had just gotten back from Florida two days earlier, and although Bean hadn’t gone with us, we fought a stomach bug throughout the vacation, so I naturally assumed she picked it up from Brighid.
I opened the bedroom door, found her laying in bed, and yelled at her. Yep, I yelled. She had promised to make Irish potatoes for Brighid’s Brownie meeting that afternoon. The girls were going to have a bit of a St. Patrick’s Day party, and Bean volunteered to make her delicious candy treats. When she told me she didn’t think she could get up to make them, I was furious. I already had a full day stacked up, and now I had to run to the grocery store, pick up all the ingredients, and make the candy myself. And, god damn it, I didn’t know the recipe.
Bundling up Eilis, I headed back out to the store. I can’t really repeat all the nasty things I said about my sister, as I’ve already “god damned” once in this blog, and I’d hate to go overboard with the language. Let’s just say there weren’t thoughts of sunshine and rainbows as I gathered up the ingredients, thinking of the burden my day now held with the added responsibilities of “Candy Maker”.
When I came home, I didn’t hear the shower. She swore to me she would get in the shower while I was gone, and I had even gotten pissed enough to call my mother, put my mother on the phone, and make her tell Bean to get a shower.
I took Eilis downstairs, put her in her walker, and went upstairs, with all the venom of 1000 rattlesnakes waiting to spew forth at my sister. I shoved open the bedroom door, and she wasn’t there. Well, what the hell? I knocked on the bathroom door, but I got no answer. So I opened it.
While I will never, ever, ever, ever forget what I found when I opened the bathroom door, the thing I will remember forever and a day is the bitterness and anger I had for Bean that whole morning. My last words to her were mean, hate filled, and nasty.
And I never got to take them back. Or make up for them. Or let her know I didn’t mean them – it was the frustration speaking.
The best I could do to take back the things I said was to write her eulogy, reminding myself as I reminded everyone else of the good person she was.
Bean is still the best person I have ever known. We got along like oil and water sometimes, but honestly, there is no heart bigger; no soul gentler; no person kinder than my sister.
And I miss her as much now as I did the first minute I realized I didn’t have her anymore.