Kevin, my nephew (not to be confused with Kevin, my husband), and Jennifer, my sister, came to visit us for a nice long weekend. Seeing Jennifer again—and watching Sophia, shrieking with delight, scamper up the stairs after her cousin--has tipped me in the direction of maybe, possibly having another child.
Sure, she used to sneak into my room and rifle through my things (once eating all of the Hershey’s Kisses off of a felt wall hanging I had purchased for her as a Hanukkah gift—ahhhhh, the satisfaction in watching her open that ravaged piece of felt with empty foil wrappers attached to it.) Yes, she used to grab the remote, lean back on the bed and kick me in the stomach so I couldn’t get near it (or her, for that matter). Of course she pestered me, asking the same questions over and over again, “Can I have a turn?” “How does this look?” “Will you play with me now?” Isn’t that what little sisters do?
But there were good times too—putting cold wash cloths on each others’ red tushies after dad spanked us for getting red paint on the rug, holding hands as we made our way down the staircase towards our goyisha four-foot fake fir on Christmas morning, pretending that we lived in rooms 4444 and 4443 of a grand hotel (NOT in a house with our parents), calling each other by our made-up pet names “Joanurn and Junurn” and chatting away in a mysterious language we invented as we went along.
My sister: the thorn in my side, encroacher on my only childhood, thief of parental attention, insanely cute, golden, curly-haired, wide eyed, skinny screaming child who can make me laugh until my stomach hurts, who IS my memory and the witness to my childhood, who loves me for no reason other than I am her older sister.
She left this morning, and the house feels so empty without her.
And then there is Kevin—halfway between a little boy and a teenager, still unabashedly affectionate, his mouth constantly moving, his brain constantly whirring. Kevin, who still calls my sister “momma,” who would eat the contents of my sugar bowl if he thought the deed would go unpunished, who stood in the family bathroom of the Franklin Institute and said incredulously, “25 cents for a napkin? What a rip off! I could get one for free!” Kevin who spontaneously tells me he loves me when he feels it, who patiently reads to Sophia with a fluency unmatched by most adults, and who wanted to know if there were any secret passageways in my house.
I hadn’t really thought anyone was missing from the table, until I had more at the table and, suddenly, they were gone.