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The Oldest Sister MAG
I wish I had one more chance to see my sister Betsy, and then I could get to know her myself. Death is very complicated and doesn’t always make sense to adults, so trying to explain it to a small child is extremely difficult. As a four-year-old, I can honestly say I didn’t understand what my mom meant when she told me my sister had died. I don’t really know what was going through my mind at that moment, but I do know I wasn’t thinking about how hard it would be growing up without my big sister.
On the night of January 8, 1999, my life changed forever. I was watching David Letterman with my mom, just like any other night, when we heard a strange beeping noise. She rushed to my room where my sister was supposed to be sleeping and found the furnace in flames.
The next couple of hours blur together in chaos, from the time we discovered the fire to the point where we realized Betsy was lying in her bed dead. From that moment on, our lives would never be the same. The firemen retrieved her from the burning house, but it didn’t matter. She was already gone at the young age of 15.
At the hospital, my parents found out that she had died of carbon monoxide poisoning and there was nothing we could have done.
I will never forget that day or the days that followed. I always find myself thinking, I am so lucky to have such a strong family, because it took great strength to go on. However, moving on doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t feel empty. That is why if I had one wish it would be to see Betsy again.
So much of what I know about her is through stories others have told me over the years. People always say how much she loved to hold me, and that she didn’t mind babysitting when my parents were busy. They tell me she was an energetic, loving young woman.
Her face is only imprinted in my brain because of all the pictures around the house. If I had a chance, I would bombard her with questions about herself. I would ask what she missed the most and what she would have done differently with her life. I would make her tell me everything about herself. I would ask her what she liked and her biggest pet peeves. To have just the smallest knowledge of my own about who she was and wanted to be would be enough.
If I had the privilege to see Betsy for one day, I would be sure to tell her how much we miss her. When she died, my older sisters lost a huge part of themselves, so I would make sure Betsy knew what she meant to them. When they talk about their memories of growing up with her, I often wonder, Do they know how lucky they are for the times they shared with her?
For years after her death, people would tell me how much I looked like Betsy. I loved hearing that. However, no matter how much everyone told me that, they all knew Betsy was like my mom.
She was my parents’ first, and I know it was especially hard for them to lose her. I also realize that there are times when the pain is really intense for my mom. When these times come, I wish I had more to share about Betsy to comfort her.
I sometimes wonder how much the fire and her death changed my parents. I remember hearing my mom say that after Betsy died, my dad looked at life differently.
Even though Betsy’s death was a horrible tragedy, as a result my sisters and I are very close. When we are laughing and having a great time together, that’s when I wonder, What would Betsy have said? Would she be laughing, or maybe telling us to grow up? It is at those times that I especially wish she were still here. I would love her with all my heart, and she and I could have a bond only shared by the oldest and youngest of the family.
I do realize that is impossible; my wish of seeing her for a day and returning everything to normal will never happen. Nonetheless, I will continue wishing because, after all, it’s only a wish.