a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

Christmas Missing II

Posted on: December 24, 2014

Now that Hanukkah is behind us, well almost, and it’s Christmas Eve I’m experiencing a new kind of Christmas missing. Which has less to do with being Jewish in a city that’s more difficult to be a Jew, and more to do with memories of Christmas’ past, my family, my sister and feeling so far away from the people I love the most.

Brutal honesty, I, like nearly everyone, took my family and specifically my sister for granted. When we were little girls and we would quarrel try to kill one anotherĀ my father would always have us make up and remind us that we only had one sister. We’d scowl at each other in still simmering anger and I would think, G-d I wish I had another sister, cause this one sure was sucky. After those fights, I’m sure Patrice felt the same way.

Our high school years were slightly tumultuous. I entered two years before her and had established myself and she showed up my junior year as the annoying younger sister. It wasn’t until I left for college that we actually became friends. And when I returned after freshman year we actually became really good friends. I watched as she experimented with drugs and when those experiments became habitual and then a full-blown addiction we drifted apart again.

And when we’d fight and say incredibly ugly things to one another during these dark times of our relationship my father would still remind me that I only had one sister and that I should treat her as such. Except now we were adults and my simmering anger was steeped in worry and a feeling of helplessness. As her older sister, I felt responsibility for the woman she was now and wondered if I had been nicer to her when we were girls and teens that things would some how have turned out differently.

Last Christmas I joined my parents and the boys in Florida for warm weather and family time. I spoke to Patrice on the phone on Christmas day and like I’d done so many times I mumbled, “I love you.” to her sort of out of obligation because that’s what you say to your loved ones on Christmas Day. I was angry with her, of course, and wished naively, as I’d done for the past few years, that she’d just snap out of it. But, every psychologist, doctor and expert in addiction knows that an addict can’t just “snap out of it.”

It was infuriating to hear at the time of her death and at her memorial, but I truly believe that my sister is in a better place and while it would be great to call her tomorrow and to force an angry “I love you” out because it’s Christmas and that’s what you do at Christmas, I can say it to her from my heart and know that wherever her soul is in which ever plane it exists, that she not only hears it, but feels it.

So, it’s Christmas Eve and I’m here in Seattle. Tomorrow I’ll talk to the boys, which seems to make me both cry and laugh at the same time this season. I’ll talk to my parents, which will also be hard. And, or but, most importantly my I loves you will be filled with meaning and purpose.

To my readers who celebrate Christmas, I wish you a very happy one. I hope you have an amazing day filled with meaning. Don’t forget to tell your family members and friends that you love them, even when it’s hard.

Christmas Missing Part One

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