Carrie Beth Davis
Memoir 2 – The Death of a Sister

Today I am losing a sister.   

As I begin my walk down the center aisle, my chin quivers, and my reserve wavers.  Tears gather in my eyes, blurring my vision so it is almost impossible to see my spot at the front of the church.  I know to walk in a straight line, so I do.  In an effort to ease my warring emotions, I repeatedly wad and unwad the Kleenex discreetly tucked in my hand, nearly shredding it.  One memory loops continuously in my mind.

 

 

I wake up, the faint roar of the lone fireplace miles away – sputtering as it attempts to warm our tiny, old house.  I stretch – my arms and toes temporarily leaving their sanctuary of warmth under my great-grandma’s patchwork quilt.  Cold air pierces my warm skin like shrapnel, and my toes curl involuntarily.  I yank my limbs back under the covers.  Thoughts race through my mind.  Ugghhh.  It’s never this cold in November.  Not in South Georgia.  I would have the only bedroom in the house with hardwood floors.  When it’s cold, it’s COLD.  The warmth from the living room never reaches my room.  The cool air, trapped and hovering in my bedroom, settles on me like a blanket, causing my nose and toes to feel like icicles.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  I CANNOT TAKE THIS!  I throw off my covers and gently touch my toes to the floor, drawing back hastily.  I feel like I’m stepping on nails!  I gather my courage and dart off the bed and across the room through my doorway, feet barely touching the floor.  I sneak through the pitch-black house with one goal alone:  warmth.   

Gosh, I hope I don’t wake Mama and Daddy.  I tiptoe through their doorway, my left arm guiding me as it touches the walls and my right arm groping the still, cold air in front of me to detect anything that dares block my path.  Daddy’s deafening snores steer me.  How does Mama do this every night?  Eventually my right hand contacts a smooth, wooden surface – the last obstacle in my journey to warmth.    I tap lightly on my older sister Mandy’s bedroom door.  An unintelligible grumble encourages me to open the door and enter.  The warmth from her space-heater radiates through the room and washes over me.  Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!  I creep over to her bed and slip quietly under the covers.

“Carrie?”  Sleep slurs her tongue.  “Why are you in my bed?”

“It was freezing in my room!  I just couldn’t stand it any longer!”

We both drift back to peaceful slumber.  I must have thrown an arm or a leg across her, because suddenly she shoves me across the bed.

“Get off me!” she exclaims as she rolls out of bed.  Her face twists in anger as she stomps across the room and settles herself on the floor in front of the space heater.  I follow her. 

She looks at me with disgust in her eyes.  “Must you do everything I do?” she questions pointedly, rolling her eyes. 

I just nod and smile, my face smug with her annoyance.  Uh, yeah . . .  I must.  You are my older sister after all.  I just want to be like you.  I really just long for her approval—but I will never tell her that.   We sit across from each other, cross-legged in silence for what seems like hours.  Dawn peeks through the windows lighting her features.

Her sleep-crusted eyes soften, and she looks over at me.  “Carrie, I’m gonna tell you something.  But first, you have to promise not to tell Mama and Daddy.”

She’s actually going to trust me with a secret?  Where is my sister, and what have you done with her?  Eleven at the time and amazed that she would trust me, I nod eagerly.  “I promise!”

“Are you sure?  Positive?  This is important . . .” she trailed off, a dreamy, faraway look in her eyes.

“Mandyyyyy . . . I really do know how to keep quiet when I need to, you know.”

She glances at the door as if using x-ray vision to ensure our parents’ slumber.  Her brown eyes glittering, she gushes.  “I met a guy last night.  He’s amazing. He’s funny and cute and so . . . CUTE!”

“Really?!  That’s soooooooo cool!  Where’d you meet him?  What’s his name?  What does he look like?” My inquisitive mind bubbles over with questions.

“He stopped us to talk while we were cruising the strip in town last night.  He knows Anna.  His name is Chris.  He’s about my height—maybe a little taller.  Maybe six feet.  He has short, light brown hair and sparkly blue eyes and the whitest teeth I think I’ve ever seen.”

 I stretch out against the bed’s footboard.  The 100-year-old hand-carved spindle bed creaks as I lean against it.  I pull her white chenille bedspread off the bed, wrapping up in it for added warmth. 

“Well, what happened?” I question.

She reaches over and pulls a corner of the bedspread over her feet and legs.  “He asked if he could call me.  I told him yes, and he got my phone number!"   

“Are you gonna go out with him?”  I stare at the pale yellow wall in front of me, and my eyes focus on the heater’s glowing orange coil.  My mind starts to wonder, and my excitement dwindles.  If she starts going out with him, I’ll never get to spend time with her.  No more trips to Waycross on Friday nights.  No more tagging along with her and Anna and Sarah for breadsticks at Village Pizza on Sunday nights after church.  Not that either of those happen too often, but still . . . I’m not sure if I’m gonna like this whole dating thing.  I just don’t want to lose her.  We’re so far apart in age—she’s always looked at me as just her annoying little sister.  She’s just starting to treat me like a friend.  I don’t want to lose her . . . but she looks so happy.

“I think so,” she sighs.  “There’s just one problem.”

My eyebrows scrunch up.  “Really?  What?”  Maybe there’s hope after all…

“He’s 21.  And I’m only 17.  Mama and Daddy will never let me go out with him,” she laments.

 

 

The tears in my eyes clear as I reach the invisible “X.”  I turn and face the crowd gathered in the small, red-carpeted church.  I can no longer keep it together.  Silent sobs wrack my body, and tears gush down my face.  I glance to my left and see Chris—a huge grin plastered on his face, his blue eyes trained on the white, wooden, double doors of the church.  Canon in D drifts softly from the baby grand piano behind me.  The doors open.  I follow Chris’s gaze and watch as my sister, bathed in radiance and donned in clouds of white, floats down the petal-strewn aisle on my father’s arm. 

 Today I am losing a sister.