I am the oldest sibling of two. This was a burden that was drilled into me time and again:

“Be nice to your sister.”
“One day, you will be all that you have.”
“Take care of your sister, Kandace. You’re the one in charge.”
I vacillated between pride and resentment.
Heather was always a bit “too much.” Her voice was too loud, her personality too strong, her looks, too pretty, her needs, too great. She was beautiful, and her friends loved her with a passion that my friends never quite had for me. She was a butterfly: lovely, a joy, and too delicate to last. I always resented that she never trusted her sister to help her with her many school problems, but threw herself on the mercy of friends and classmates that were both loyal and cruel.

Over the years, Heather married, had children, and traveled places that I only dreamed of. Unfortunately, her demons were as great as her joys. It became a familiar family refrain, “What is Heather doing now?” We clucked our tongues as we bailed her out yet again. I always thought we would one day make up when we were older and things in our lives calmed down. We called each other sporadically, saw each other every couple of years, and stayed in touch through our mother.

Oct 24, 2007: I was sitting in my car in my driveway, ready to pull out to head to work. Mom called with the news that my sister had overdosed and was dead. It was four days after her 31st birthday. I will not go into my pain. My baby sister was dead, and any hopes that I held for “one day” were gone.

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