It's a bit more than a year since Annie's death. She was so young, with young kids and the time that has passed has only relieved me of the numbness I initially felt, now it's just painful heartache.
She was number seven kid, and I'm number nine in our family. We were born in the same month and she once told me that she thought I was a birthday gift when I was born. She was always there for me, as all good sisters are, we fought wickedly with each other when we were young and stupid, and as we got older, became something more than friends, the thing that only a pair can become after a lifetime of similar experiences.
One day I rec'd a call saying Annie wouldn't be with us anymore. She was young, only 39,how can this be? She had a seizure, the third one in her life, but this one happened in the bathroom as she was getting out of the tub, a full tub. She fell in the tub and drowned. And now I can never be the same. A years worth of questions, jokes, problems, thoughts and debates have built up and I have no one to share them with.
I know I'm not the only one left with a great big gaping hole in my life as the result of Annie's death, there is the other seven siblings who share in it, her husband and especially her children, ages five and seven years at the time, my parent's and about a million other people who encountered Annie and found a loving generous soul. Every year at Christmas she would get the name of a child from the post office and buy them gifts. Going all the way up to the Bronx to deliver them. Somewhere there is a kid not getting something from her this year.
There are hundreds of similar stories I could tell you about how Annie gave of herself, and ultimately, she donated just about her entire body upon death. That has been a real gift to me, because I know she does not reside in that coffin in Val Halla, but in the hearts and minds and bodies of many people.
Annie, you are my big sister, and I will always love you. It's so hard not having you here anymore.