I visited her grave yesterday for the first time in a long time. It was August 8th, her Birthday, and I had spent the entire day thinking about her and working up the courage to pay her a little visit. It's hard for me to go there, but I knew it would be a good place to be alone with my thoughts and a safe place to talk out loud.
Standing over her grave, I thought about all the things we would have in common if she was still here. Her being twenty-three and me twenty-six, I know we'd be the best of friends - no different than before. I thought about how she would celebrate her big day and knew it would start with Eggo Waffles soaked in syrup while she watched A Baby Story, A Wedding Story and then What Not To Wear. She would have come up to our pool or gone down to the beach where she'd sit with her favorite book, a bag of Munchies and a cold can of Nestea. She'd be listening to her favorite music in her van and dreading any kind of party Mom was planning because she hated when people fussed over her. She never enjoyed the excitement of a party, she only wanted to celebrate with those she loved the most. Us.
Through watering eyes I read CHRISTINE ELIZABETH on the big, black block of granite. It was strange seeing her full name written on the stone - like it's been forever since I've seen it written on anything when it was once on everything. I said her name out loud and over and over again with a shaken voice, and each time I said it I felt a release of emotions that I had been building up inside of me. Even hearing her full name said out loud was strange and unfamiliar, and it wasn't until I said it the way she would that I smiled and felt her energy again. Tristine Ewizabet.
Happy memories and sad memories raced through my head faster than I could organize them. One memory after another, skipping years ahead and then going back so long in time I wondered how I even remembered them at all. I pictured her and my Dad dancing in the kitchen while Mom made brunch. I remembered when we'd pretend to film, "Cooking With Chris" and how I would do everything in my power to convince her that Kraft Dinner was not going to kill her. I remember gathering all the pillows and blankets we owned to make a bed on the floor for Disney movie marathons on Friday nights, her face on Christmas morning, her excitement as she browsed the shelves of Chapters. And when I closed my eyes I saw her doodling in her sketchbooks and I saw her long fingers flip the pages of her books and I saw her big green eyes looking at me again.
Then I thought of the hundred times she would call and Facebook me throughout the day when I lived away, and how sometimes I just didn't want to talk. I didn't have the time or the desire to talk for the third time that day and I often made up excuses. I remembered the times I would poke fun at her for wanting to watch The Magic School Bus, telling her it was a baby show and wishing she'd watch something I liked instead...
... And of course, as I sat 6 feet over, I remembered the yellow and black dress that Mom picked out for her for the last time. I imagined her wearing those purple glasses with the fake diamonds on the arms, her favorite blanket, and all her books at her side.
I cried and cried. Sitting on my knees I ran my hands through the green grass in denial that she's been gone long enough for it to grow in so thick. I looked around at the weathered stones and runaway weeds and it pained me to think that time will continue to pass, years will go by, and this will not get easier.
There is nothing I wouldn't give to hear Ms. Frizzle's voice coming from my Mom and Dad's living room again. To hear the phone ringing and know it was her, to see her face, to touch her skin or to hear her voice, I would give anything.
But, she's gone. It's written in stone.