“For my sister on her birthday”

Every time I come home to San Francisco, I find myself reorganizing yet another one of my drawers in this house. I guess it goes to show that I’m not as neat and “organized” as I thought I was if I am constantly reorganizing and discarding things.

In my nightstand by my bed, while rummaging through old photos I put on the walls of my old dorm rooms, I found the only card Ed has ever given me. It’s a humorous and silly Hallmark card, and this is what it says:

For my sister on her birthday


I’ve done all the things

siblings are

famous for —

I’ve bugged you,

I’ve embarrassed you.

I’ve made your life

a living nightmare…

But now that we’re older

I just want to say…


I was only doing my job!

It is dated January 22, 2007, five days after I turned 21. It’s dated that late because that year, our parents took me on a Hawaiian cruise as a birthday gift, and Ed as per usual refused to go because he hated traveling with them anywhere. That was the day we got back from the cruise.

Waiting for me when we arrived home was this card, a massive bouquet of multicolored flowers that Ed had delivered to the house, and a birthday cake for me. “21 is a big deal,” Ed said when he proudly presented the gifts. “Read the card I got you!” I obediently read it and chuckled a little and thanked him. He was clearly so proud of this card. “Isn’t this card so funny? That’s exactly us! It’s so great!” He was obsessed, and I could tell he obsessed about it at Walgreens or wherever else he picked up this card as he went through many cards.

After I read it today and stared longingly at his hand writing, I looked up at the photo of him on his old dresser in our bedroom, and I felt sick. How the hell is he not here anymore? Look at that innocent smile of his. It’s like all he wanted was a bit of encouragement, and he could barely get it from anyone other than his pastor and me. Every time I am back home, his absence is more painfully apparent because his photos and his bed and his dresser are here, but he is not. That bed just beckons him to come back, as it stares at me and asks, who will sleep in me? Will Ed ever come back? And I have to silently tell it that no, Ed will never be back to sleep in you again. The last night he ever slept in you was July 21, 2013, and that was the final night ever. I bend down to smell the sheets, and it smells just like him. You smell just like Ed, I tell the bed. Maybe he’s just hiding in the bed somewhere? Or maybe with that large framed photo from his funeral, if I wipe it down hard enough to get rid of all the dust, maybe he’ll pop out and hug me again?

These are my silly hopes and delusions, that I will see him again on earth, that he is still out there somewhere. My one wish in life is one that cannot be granted with even the all of the money and power in the world. I just want Ed back and healthy and happy. It’s so lonely to think that one day, you had a sibling, and the next, you don’t. It’s not fair that good, innocent people like him are gone.

Breaking in

I flew home to San Francisco today, and my parents picked me up from the airport as they usually do. When I got into the car, my mom said to me, “Don’t get mad about this, but we locked ourselves out of the house, so we need to get the ladder from the garage and climb up to the bedroom to get in.” Great. The dysfunction begins already. Today, I had to break into my own house.

The reason this is “dysfunctional” is that we typically keep a spare key with my aunt, who lives upstairs (they live in a duplex in the Richmond district of the city). Because my aunt used to house a black woman who my parents couldn’t stand (my parents are racist. It’s just a fact. They claimed she was loud and disruptive; she was not), my mom took back the spare key from her, saying she feared that “the black people upstairs” (meaning, that black woman and any of her black relatives and friends) would break into their space downstairs and steal everything. Even after this woman died from terminal cancer in July, my mom still refused to give my aunt back the key because “the blacks are still up there” visiting. That’s just lovely.

We would never have gotten locked out if it hadn’t been for my mother’s paranoia and my parents’ shared racism. The ladder in the garage ended up not being tall enough to get to the second floor bedroom, so I went up the back porch staircase, propped open the kitchen window, climbed over the outdoor staircase banister, and plopped myself onto the kitchen counter and jumped onto the kitchen floor. The entire time, my mom tried to put a death grip on me, but I had to shoo her off, scolding her and telling her she’d be more of a distraction than a savior if I fell.

After we got in, I told them both it was stupid and that they needed to get over it and just give the damn spare key back to my aunt. “What if I weren’t here?” I admonished them. “Neither of you could have done what I just did! It’s not safe for you!” Dad said next time, they’d have the taller ladder there because they left it at the apartment, but I told them that there will not be a next time because they will be logical for once and give the spare key to my aunt. It’s family dysfunction and paranoia like this that drove Ed away, and they still just don’t get it.