Since I neglected to pencil in ‘buy birthday present for sister’ this year, and then I forgot to call or email her on the actual anniversary of her birth, I have done this belated birthday sketch for her instead.
When she and I were growing up, older sister was my number one tormentor. The one who kept laying claim to my favorite toys, who forced me to play Darth Vader while she and her snotty friend Crystal got to be Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, who convinced me mountains were the graves of giants then laughed at four year old me for my naivete and, worst of all, who stuck me with that stupid nickname which older members of our family still insist on calling me. Teyel. A word which makes no sense whatsoever and sounds a little too much like tail. As in, there’s Cherry followed by her little tail—oops, I mean sister.
When my sister and I are fighting, these and many, much more horrible incidents of torment are what I used to (and sometimes still do) remember. But then, when she’s at the other end of the country, or, currently, somewhere in the south pacific, I think how differently I might have turned out without her.
After our mother left and our father was finding even more ways to be erratic, illogical and frightening—living with him was like living in some Alice in Wonderland nightmare world where parents did not make sense, parents were forever changing form, parents could be truly dangerous—he, for some reason thought it would be a good idea to pass out on my bedroom floor night after night or even, once or twice, on my bed. If I’d been in a less traumatized state after the loss of my mother, I would have been able to fend him off better. I could have put into words exactly why asshole father should not do this. Not that he would have listened.—And not, I have to add, that my father was a child molester. But to lose my mother and then to realize this—this brain half gone asshole of a father was our sole parent now—was not, to put it mildly, at all comforting.
It was then of course that my formerly number one tormentor became my number one protector and best friend. My sister, without my asking her to, stepped in by inviting me to play sleep over with her. She’d read to me from a book of Grimm’s fairy tales night after night, a comforting ritual, until it was safe again to sleep in my own room.
So that’s what this image illustrates.
Happy birthday, Cherry. Love ya!