Ten years. That’s how long I’ve been without my little sister, Kylene. The sad thing is I don’t know what life would be like with her anymore. I used to be able to imagine what certain events would have been like if she had been alive: helping her get ready for her prom, attending her high school graduation, the dress she would have worn at my wedding. It gets harder to imagine what her role in my life would be with each passing event.
I only know her up to the 16-year-old person she was when she died. Everything after that is speculation. I can try to imagine what she would look like at 26, but the difference between 16 and 26 is unfathomable. Would she be married? Maybe she would have kids, maybe she would’ve even had her first kid before I had The Boy. Kylene was talented at so many things, I don’t even know what she would have grown up to be.
I like to think she would have gone to NYC for college and majored in something that had to do with helping people but minored in drama. And like I discovered in college that writing was my true passion, she would have discovered acting and singing were hers. Maybe she would be a famous Broadway star. That’s the thing about 16: there’s an endless supply of potential.
For years I’ve been heartbroken over all the potential that died with my sister. Over all the things she never got to experience. Recently I’ve realized how sad I am over all the things I lost since she died. We had a volatile relationship as kids, trying to share a bedroom for many years, me being annoyed when she copied me, her being annoyed when I tried to tell her to be more like me (when I maybe should’ve been more like her).
We were just learning how to be friends when she died. Because she was my little sister and always had a sympathetic ear, she never made me feel bad about my feelings. I can remember having a bad dream and hopping off the top bunk into the bottom bed where my sister slept, showing a vulnerability I hated to admit I had. She didn’t ask for an explanation or make me feel silly for being scared. She was just there for me. Even in our worst fights, she would never, never bring something like that up and throw it back in my face. She kept my feelings safe, no matter what.
I think we would have been best friends now. I wish she had been here to meet my son. I wish she could be here when my first novel comes out (a story I wrote for her, but turned out to be about me). People always say things like, “The dead are with us as long as they are in our hearts.” I don’t disagree with that. I hold Kylene close to my heart. That doesn’t mean I don’t miss her and what my life would have been like if she was still alive.