November 30, 2014

This one is for Christine.

When I was growing up, I was surrounded by boys.  I had two older brothers and 6 male 1st cousins (all older except the youngest who was my age). My saving graces were my two 3rd cousins, Francine and Christine.  They were both younger than me by a few years, and lived in Charlotte, not far away.

Francine was the older of the two sisters, and had flaming red hair and freckles.  She was very quiet, and didn’t speak a lot, so I never quite knew where I stood with her.  Christine, however, was very vivacious and beautiful, just beautiful.  She had big soulful eyes and exotic dark hair that curled in the most lovely way.  She talked a lot and we got along quite well.  We took gymnastics together and she was very good.  They had a balance beam in their house and a trampoline, too, so I was quite envious.

I loved their house.  They lived in a beautiful neighborhood and their home had Japanese accents.  There was a creek in the backyard where we would catch salamanders and crayfish.  Their mother raised Yorkshire Terriers and their father loved to talk to me about philosophy, religion, and history.  I found them to be quite interesting and always enjoyed our visits, especially with Christine.

When the girls were in their teens, the family moved to an 18-acre farm in Weddington.  Now instead of a creek, they had a large pond with swans in it, and a beautiful aviary in their home.  Instead of Yorkies, their mom now raised pigmy goats.  Their father had a library in a balcony where he kept all of his books.  I loved the place, though I must admit I did miss their old house.  Apparently the girls did, too.

Christine didn’t do so well after they moved.  She got in with a cult, was hooked on hard drugs, and then became pregnant some time around the age of 18.  She kept the baby and named it after my grandmother, Sarah Catherine, as they were quite close.  She would bring her Sarah down for visits, and seemed to be getting her life back together.

But the need for drugs was too strong and some time around 1993 or so, she moved away from her family’s pressure to get her life back together and took her daughter to New York.  The last I spoke with her was in 1992 when she sent me a wedding gift.  I tried to find her on Facebook last year or anywhere on the web for that matter, and I couldn’t.  It’s like she didn’t exist.

On Thanksgiving just past, I learned that Christine threw herself off of the George Washington Bridge on Mother’s Day, 2014.

It took them 3 months to identify her body.  She had no identification on her, and no one reported her missing.  For no one to report her missing means that nobody missed her.  She had long been out of communication with her parents (they hadn’t spoken in 3 years) and her daughter–now in her 20s and engaged–would have nothing to do with her.  She had no one.

It saddens me deeply.  I really liked Christine.  We grew up together.  She was my favorite cousin.

To think that her life–which once appeared so happy and together–had gone off the rails so much is frightening.  I wonder what it was like for her, what pushed her to commit suicide on Mother’s Day.  Her mother said that she had always thought that she was bi-polar.  Maybe the drugs helped her to make sense of her life.  Maybe knowing that she was alone was too much for her.

It is important to note, very important, that they found no drugs in her system at the time of her death.  So it was all her free will with no added confusion.

There was no funeral, no obituary, no memorial.  She just died and that was it.

So this picture is for her.  It’s of my front window, lit by the warm glow of the lamp by my favorite chair.  You can see the blue sky in the reflection, and birthday flowers from a friend in the window.  It represents the peace that I wish she could have found for herself.  And it’s my way of saying I will remember her.

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