The day she was born is a day I will never forget.
I was about to take on the most important role of my life: big sister.
My sister Monique was born when I was about three.
I may have been young, but I still remember the most important parts of that day.
Like seeing her through the window for the first time!
She seemed so big compared to all of the other babies in that room. I now know that’s because she was.
Her lungs were big, too. My dad picked her up to show her off and she screamed so loud I thought something was wrong with her.
My mother named her after a French actress. She majored in French and loved the language, lifestyle and movies.
At the time, the name Monique was unheard of here in the States.
Now, it’s everywhere. But I like to believe my sister was the first.
I was so excited to have a sister. I saw it as a built in friend. My own little baby doll. I was a proud big sister. And protective, too.
My dad, well, he was over the moon. She looked just like him. She had beautiful golden blonde hair, a natural tanned tone and cute little baby-chubby- cheeks.
I couldn’t wait to hold her!
And when I did, she was practically bigger than me. I had so many plans for us when we “got bigger.”
Someday we were gonna live right next door to each other with our own families.
We eventually got Monique home and life started back to usual.
I was comfortable in my role as big sister and took it seriously.
One day, though, something changed in Monique.
She stopped eating. She looked pale. And slept, a lot.
I can still remember hearing my mom tell my dad “I think somethings wrong. She wont eat. She’s clammy. And she sleeps, a lot.”
My dad tried to get her to eat. And I followed his cues by trying to do the same.
I remember she was sitting in her high chair. She seemed tired. She didn’t want to play or eat.
I was trying to coerce her into eating. She was about two.
I knew she loved ice cream so I thought I would see if she’d eat that. If she did, all was well in my world.
But when she wouldn’t eat it, I knew something was wrong.
I immediately started to pray. I didn’t know much about God back then, but I must’ve seen it on TV. Because I started praying.
My mom and dad took her to the doctor. They ran multiple tests. And Monique was diagnosed with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes, brittle form.
I was in the room when the doctor told my parents she was inevitably going to die.
That was the first time I heard the word “death” but I knew what it meant.
The doctors’ said she probably wouldn’t live to be 18.
Every year that passed we all sighed in relief.
But one day, at age 26, just like the doctor said, Monique died due to complications of diabetes.
I hate the word “complications!” The death IS the complication in my world.
The day she died, just like her birth, is forever etched into my memory.
Today, is the anniversary of her death. I feel like a part of me, my heart and my history died with her that day.
When she died I was busy building a career. Money, fame, success by society’s standard was all I could see.
Meanwhile, my sister, who had known her whole life that she was going to die was dreaming of simple things like love, marriage, motherhood and travel.
It feels like forever since I’ve heard her laugh or had a conversation with her.
But since cancer, I feel more connected to her than ever before.
For just like her, I now, too, dream of simple things.
I can still us bike riding, roller skating, and burying our little time capsule on the side of our house.
I can’t begin to tell you how much I miss her.
Ain’t nothin’ like a sunny day. Chit chat on a street cafe. Take a walk. Take a ride. I remember how I used to want it all. Funny now the big things seem so small.
In my first Behind the Beat post, I share with you the song Simple Things by Amy Grant. It’s the third song off of her Simple Things album. And the album was her twelfth studio album, released in 2003.
This song and album, albeit an older one, sums up much of my thoughts and feelings surrounding personal loss.
And whenever I hear it, I think of my sister. The lessons I’ve learned. And how much I look forward to seeing her again, someday, under better circumstance.
Is there an album or song that resonates with you?