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Family

In honor of my sister’s birthday, today’s Blast from the Past is a true story of best sisters and friends forever.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

It’s true, it really is…
Cooler Near the Lake

In Wisconsin I guess I took for granted all of the accessible lakes. I grew up approximately 22 blocks from Lake Michigan, though I’m often heard bashing our bay’s high pollution level being situated right between Milwaukee and Chicago. Seriously, hazing for summer lifeguards involves swimming from a boat to shore and then they are never actually on duty because the pollution levels are too high. They just put up these “No Lifeguard on Duty: High Pollution Swim at Your Own Risk” signs and interact with parents who say seemingly ridiculous things such as, “Oh, no, I wouldn’t go in there, but it’s okay for my kids to swim, right?”

Then there were other lakes. Community lakes rimmed by large cabins, houses, and rickety old docks with anchored rafts floating 15-20 feet away. Public lakes with grassy lawns edging sandy beaches. My sister got her license just before I turned nine. That next summer she would pick me up from intramural drama classes (yes, during the summer; I know, I’m a dork) and have to “watch me” for the rest of the day. On days when all the stars aligned (my sister didn’t have to go to work, we had enough money to get in, or it was free), we would head straight from class to Silver Lake.

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Poets and philosophers have waxed poetic about it since the first icy thread rent the first broken heart. They fill tomes and tombs with tales tall and true. Yet, I’ve spent more than a year trying to conjure some eloquent expression and not a one finds the grace to relent. No, they twist and trip down my tangled tongue then to stick to the tip, frozen, unmoving, unyielding, unsaid. There comes no song; no lay of lament. No sonnet to silence a cacophonous confusion. Only the aftermath, the end; the beginning of some perverted version of what ought to have been. All that is left in the din and the darkness is a single ray, as clear and cruel as the night is dirty and dank. Ruthlessly, it rings with what I’ve always known: The words do not come because, in truth, there are none.

It’s not elegant.
It’s not poetic.
It’s raw.
It’s ragged.
It’s real.

It’s painful and it’s plain:

My sister is dead.