"To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other's hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time."
-- Clara Ortega
My big sister & me
Those of you with a sharp eye may have noticed that my sister looks a little familiar to you. If you guessed Velma Dinkley, then you win a Scooby Snack because it's true - my sister is indeed Velma Dinkley from Scooby Doo.
Here's the proof.
Just like her cartoon character, my brainiac sister is brilliant and bookish and knows all the answers to everything. Born to decipher clues and solve crimes, she devours mystery novels like cotton candy. She is my biggest supporter and greatest defender, always ready to rush in and rip the mask off any monster I may be facing, saving the day by proving any overblown fears are none other than Old Man Travers, the Caretaker.
That's my sister. When we lost our father to cancer, and then our mother to a brain tumour, it was my sister who was my rock. While others feared she would falter and fall back upon old addictions, she remained solid in her determination to be a support to me. My tenacious Velma is steadfast in her role of Big Sister.
So, when that mighty brain of hers first began to fail, I was suspicious. When I caught myself having to explain the obvious to her, I was alarmed. When the small cracks that appeared in her memory widened to become yawning fissures into which tumbled first her energy, then her ambition, and finally her spirit, I was terrified.
I attempted to reverse our roles. She could be Daphne Blake, the clumsy danger-prone damsel in distress and I would be the one to rescue her with my love and determination. I would support her, and protect her, and fight for her. I would give her my strength to use while hers failed.
But the role of big sister is apparently not one you easily cast off. When the long months of doctor appointments and tests ended with the diagnosis of a brain tumour, my sister turned to me and said,
"I feel so bad for you... that you have to go through this again."
It seems, no matter what our age, no matter what twists and turns life throws at us, I will forever be the younger sister in that photo, and she will always be my Velma.
Part III Down the Rabbit Hole