That tells you a lot about her, I think.
Elle died 3 years ago today.
She’s my big sister (by almost 10 years). I wrote “was” but changed it; she’ll always be my big sister.
Elle was my guide and my surrogate Mom when our mother was too caught up in her own drama to pay much attention to the rest of us.
Elle was my role model – some of that was good and some, not so much.
Elle loved me unconditionally and I, her.
We drank together, we got high together.
She left home at 18; I left home at 17.
She disappointed my parents by never being what they wanted her to be; I enraged them by never living up to what they wanted from her, from our brother Pat (who suffered brain damage at the age of 2), or from me.
Elle quit drugs first, she quit drinking first; I would take a bunch more years to find that path.
Elle set aside her birth parents as toxic (and they were) and created a new identity for herself which allowed her to be her own person both in name and spirit; I followed suit years later.
I wish I could say that Elle died a happy person, content with her life but I know all too well that she was searching for something she never found.
Cancer beat her down and she refused to get back up again. She allowed herself to slip away as she stopped taking the drugs that would have allowed her to fight back.
She was ready to “go back to Jesus” as she so often said.
I had a real problem with Jesus – he couldn’t have my sister; she was mine.
But she did go.
I miss her terribly.
So here I stand today. I’m clean and sober in part because she showed me it was possible.
I’ve learned that reinvention is something we do at the spiritual level, not just in name.
There is an ache within me, a need, to be more than a seeker…to be a finder.
Unlike Elle I’m not planning on, or counting on, going anywhere when I die.
I believe this is it – this life is my one life – so I need to make of it what I will.
When you get right down to it that’s the biggest lesson I’m holding onto from my big sister.
Make your life your own.
I’m working on it, Elle.