Earlier this week, I saw a friend request from years ago. It was from when I was registered on social media but not on social media, so I never realized it was there until recently. I looked at it for a few moments before moving on. As I skimmed my timeline, I went back to that invite.
“Brian, wake up! Wake up! Let’s go!” my father said as he shook me from my slumber. Pop always had things under control, so I could tell from the excitement and the tad bit of nervousness in his voice that this was serious. I woke up to see him helping my pregnant mother to the door as my brother hurriedly grabbed my arm and both of our coats – his was the green one with the gold and white stripe that went halfway down the sleeve; mine the brown one with the hood. “Mom’s about to have the baby! C’mon man, hurry up!” I was in my pajamas. And sleepy. Hurry up meant nothing to me.
I remember it was cold outside – or as cold as a Louisiana winter would allow. We arrived at the hospital in no time, seeing that there was no traffic in the early morning.
“Brian, come see your sister,” my father told me. I looked at the new addition to our family and asked, “What’s her name.”
As children, we would become best of friends. Of course, we would argue from time to time as siblings do but we never held a grudge. Not for long anyway. She was both smart and a smart ass, and I learned a lot from her. She demanded that I listen, not because she was the baby of the bunch but because she had something to say.
When I flew into Houston from San Diego, she picked me up and had a rental car ready for my convenience. “Good lookin’out, Coe.” “Aw c’mon, bro, I got you,” she said. There were two big boxes of clothes in her backseat. “What’s all this?” I asked.
“Just a few things for the homeless in the area. I try to help any way I can,” she told me as she pulled up behind the rental SUV. She was as beautiful inside as she was out.
“That’s alright, baby girl. That’s alright.”
On a chilly California night in late November, I received a group text from her and our brother. We were laughing at times gone by – times that we could never physically regain but that would always provide funny and fond memories. Those laughs filled both my screen and my heart. “I love my brothers,” she wrote. “Goodnight.”
Two weeks later, she died unexpectedly.
I had seen the friend request from my sister before…but this time it was different. I stared at her picture. At her name. Her picture. Her name. I’m not sure for how long.
When I was talking to someone about it a few days ago, believe me when I say I didn’t want to cry. But my eyes had other plans. Not that men shouldn’t cry but I didn’t feel like giving in, which would cause me to revisit the hurt. I had succeeded until now. Sometimes I allow it because sometimes it is necessary. I didn’t welcome that feeling today, though. I stubbornly wiped the tear from my cheek and continued with the point I was making.
I still haven’t accepted it. Her death nor her request. The latter because I still want to see her photo emerge on my timeline every now and then, not knowing when it will appear – hopefully interrupting my concentrated flow and catching me by pleasant surprise.
I thought about hitting that “accept” button then smiled and looked at her picture again and thought…
No request needed, my sister; my friend. No request needed.
I love you.