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When the Dead Won’t Stay Dead

May 20, 2012

Um. You know, I can hear you. You’re saying to yourself “Good God she’s going to go on about her dead sister again. Yeah, yeah, we know already. You have a sister and she’s dead. That doesn’t make you special. This isn’t a meme that’s going to go viral Surly. Give it a rest.” You really are quite insensitive. Which explains why you read me. And why you drink.

Yeah. So I have a dead sister, and that doesn’t make me special. It’s nothing to be jealous of. Although, if you have a dead brother, I might be a little jealous of you. I’ve always wanted a brother, even a dead one, so you kinda one upped me there. “Did she really just say she wishes she had a dead brother?” Yeah, I did. Deal with it.

The thing about dead siblings is that they never really stay dead. I mean sure, they are dead and all, but they aren’t like great-grandparents or your ancestors that rarely make their way into conversations unless you’re obsessed with your genealogy, or have a really great ancestor that you can trot out at parties. I have a couple of ancestors that came over on the Mayflower that I like to casually name drop at Thanksgiving, but other than that, they tend to stay dead. My sister, Parrish, on the other hand, is forever popping her head out of her grave. She’s always been such a pain in the ass, it’s not surprising that she won’t stay dead.

No, it’s not like she’s haunting me or anything really cool like that. Although I wouldn’t put it past her to go all Jacob Marley on me, just to get attention. Shortly after she died I kept having these dreams where she would appear and would be increasingly frustrated because I was the only one who could see and hear her, and the idea of an eternity of only being able to talk to me was the equivalent of the 10th Circle of Hell. I’m sure you’re nodding your head in agreement with that. You’re not alone, I’m pretty sure most days Dave feels that way about being married to me. But I digress. It’s not that she’s haunting me, but her death and her being dead have an insidious way of getting in the middle of a lot of things.

From the moment that she was diagnosed with brain cancer my mother was waiting for the inevitable. She did everything she could to save my sister, but there was always this element of waiting for the proverbial other shoe. When it did come, my mother was both prepared and wholly unprepared for it. In the 5 years since Parrish died, she’s still not fully gotten a grasp on what to do about Parrish’s being dead. Parrish, or the aftermath of Parrish, is always there. My mother helps care for my nieces because their mother is dead. Their daily needs are a constant reminder. The fact that Parrish is not there to clean up their messes, to clean up the messes her death left behind, is in it’s own way a rattling of chains. The loss has toned my mother down in a myriad of ways. She was always THAT mother. The one whose outfits, replete with rhinestones, feathers, and glitter always embarrassed me. Since Parrish’s death the gaudiness has diminished and she’s become more sedate. Now while I’m less likely to walk 10 paces behind her and pretend I don’t know her when we’re in public, which is a good thing, I attribute the lack of sparkle to grief and loss rather than a sudden bout of good taste. This would be Parrish’s doing.

For most of our formative years Parrish and I didn’t get along. She was the first of 3 babies that would stand between me and my quest to be an only child. She was annoying. She was an excellent liar, forever lying to our parents and getting me in trouble for the stuff she did. She broke my arm. She stole my stuff. Hell, she even got to go to the prom with my first love, while I never got to go to prom. So, you can see why we didn’t get along for the most part. She was an annoying little sister. Even dead, she’s still an annoying little sister.

Parrish has a nasty habit of popping into conversations that aren’t even about her. When fighting with my youngest sister during the last year, she kept popping into the arguments as if she were a referee from the beyond. “Parrish would have said…” or “Parrish would have agreed with me…” or “Parrish would not have done/said this or that.” Frankly, she’s dead, she really should keep her nose out of it. And if she can’t, she should at least be on my side. For once.

Today, chains-a-rattling, she made me cry. Something she’s been doing for 43 years, and even dead, something at which she excels. It’s annoying. I don’t like to cry. Certainly not in public. Trust me, a woman with no eyebrows with her eyes red an puffy from crying is not something anyone wants to see. But there I was, blubbering before an audience of 40 people all because of her. Pain in my ass. See, at cycling practice today I decided to give a small presentation, something we call the “mission moment”, where we talk about why we’re committed to Team-in-Training. The moment was supposed to be about me, and why I get my ass out of bed at 5:30 each Saturday morning to slap on lycra and ride my bike. About why I hit people up for money for charity at every opportunity. About me. Me, me, me. But no… Parrish had to butt into my presentation and make me cry. Just because I happened to mention that it’s her birthday and passed out cupcakes to my team, she thought it was all about her.

Apparently it’s going to take until she’s an ancestor before she figures out that the dead are supposed to stay dead, and to mind their own business. She always was a slow learner.

Happy 43rd birthday to my incredibly annoying dead sister who won’t stay dead.


In the solid tradition of shameless self-promotion, I’m fundraising on behalf of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society this year for my 120 mile ride in Las Vegas. If you’d like to help me say “Fuck Cancer!” please consider making a donation here: http://pages.teamintraining.org/los/vbvegas12/surlygirl.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. mayqueen permalink
    July 6, 2013 7:08 pm

    I know this is late, but I cried when I read your post. My dad died awhile back, and I am still “haunted”, You sound to me like you were and still are a magnificent sister.:)

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