Well, I worked on it for about a whole month, and slowly it progressed into something quite different. When I had found the right color felt, and pulled out my little treasure box from under a pile of junk in my attic, gathered all my blue beads and then some more ... I started assembling my piece.
But what you see here is only the beginning. Before I can show you its ending I have to tell you a story, its story, my story, the story of my little sister Karen.
Her story started on september 30th, 1976 and abruptly ended on january 9th, 1997 when she took her own life. She was a very boyish girl and always full of life. We both had such good times together. As I was 7 years older than she, I used to play games with her like: I would tell her I was going on a journey and wanted her to come along. I would ask her to lay on her back so I could fold her up and pack her in my suitcase. I would fold her legs up to her tummy, wrap her arms around her knees and try to pick her up, which would of course never succeed.... but we laughed our heads of!
Besides being a lot of fun, she had it in her to become very angry when things wouldn't go as she would want them to. Often when our parents would tell her No, she would stand straight, put both her feet firmly on the ground, clench her fists ... and then swear and shout BUT without making any noise whatsoever (she was clever too: she knew she wasn't allowd to swear and shout!). This would make us all burst out in laughter with tears running down our cheeks. No way mom and dad would be able to stay mad!
When se was a teenager all of that changed. I have never known what really happened to her, I had left home by that time to go to college and didn't see her very often. What I do know is that the fun seeped out of her life very, very slowly and the anger turned towards herself. Although we had always been able to talk about almost anything very openly, all of a sudden she had shut up like a clam. If I was calling her to ask how she was doing, it was like a tape-recorder answering, instead of my lovely, lively sister. A long, heavy time started with her being hospitalized every so often before or after a suicide attempt.
When she was a toddler she used to be mesmerized by wedding gowns. Whenever and wherever we would pass a store with those sparkling, festive gowns we would have to stand still so she could stand in awe. Once we strolled by a store that also had evening gowns on stock and on a mannequin in the window was a bright, green, silk gown. Of course we stopped and she asked our mom: Mommy, is that a divorce dress?
She was always afraid that if I would ever marry, I would forget to invite her. I had to assure her over and over again that she was obliged to come because she was my sister! Not even being interested in boys at the time, I promissed myself that if my wedding day would come, I woud ask her to be my maid of honor. On august 28th, 1996 René and I got married and she was my maid of honor. She had survived and I couldn't be more happy then to have her there that day, knowing how hard life was on her and hoping it would give her maybe a sense of belonging and love. Two weeks later she attempted once again to kill herself. It felt like a personal failure. If only I could let her know how much I loved her and wanted her to be well and part of my life...
During the holidays that same year we went for a walk through the woods and our dog Boxer (a boxer) that she was very fond of was with us. All of us that is: our parents, my other sister and her boy-friend. She seemed to do a little better, had taken up some volunteer work, maybe there was some light at the end of the tunnel? Unfortunately just 2 weeks later, after getting some bad news, she succeeded and her short life ended. She was only 20 years, 3 months and 10 days old and will never ever be a day older.
I am now twice as old as she, she hasn't seen my children been born and grow up, nor our other sister's children. She wasn't at our graduation. She hasn't celebrated our parents 40th wedding anniversay. We have missed her on all the important occasions of our lives. She has left an emptiness that will not and cannot be filled, left us speechless, left us a song without words.
So here is to the life of my sweet baby sister. As I was beading I realized I was beading her life and not her death and that left me feeling very happy about the result. Because it is her short life that she will be remembered by, not her demise. I do remember.