Missing this last weekend and my sister today! I hate when she leaves and holidays without her are the hardest. I found myself looking at pictures from my last visit to Utah for her birthday. Thirty-five years, and that was the first birthday I had ever spent with her.
And so, I thought it would be a good time to share her story… at least, the story that I have pieced & stitched together from bits of the “truths” I’ve been told by the people involved.
Jacqueline Suzanne was the product of a night of hot and heavy disco dancing (in other words, she was an accident) – Don’t be sad, most of us siblings were! 😉 Our mom was a fiery Farrah Fawcett and our dad was the golden-haired Tony Manero (Saturday Night Fever). She loved him and his charming, bad boy ways. And he loved… women. Married in 1979. A marriage held together by young and crazy love (a brand new baby girl on the way and a 3-year old little boy from her first marriage). Two years later they would be pregnant again with another baby girl.
It was in those next few months where the stories are confusing and (as is life) the stories don’t quite align. So, this is my story, and what I know to be true.
October 12, 1982, Jacque was born. She went home from the hospital with our dad and his new wife. In January 1983, (with our dad at work and his new wife now 3 months pregnant) Jacque went to stay with our dad’s parents. She lived with them, in San Bernardino, CA, until they decided to relocate to Northern Idaho; unfortunately, she went with them. She was almost 2. I was 4. It was from then until she would turn 18 that I would only see her once a year – I guess it’s true what they say, “Our heart protects us from the memories we aren’t supposed to remember.” Because I don’t have a single memory from those years.
Elementary and Junior High were definitely the hardest years. All of the years you are supposed to spend fighting with your siblings – “My sister stole my shirt!” “My sister won’t stop copying me!” “My sister is so annoying!” I would have killed for all of that. Instead, I never talked about her, to anyone. I didn’t know what to tell people when they would ask, “You have a sister?” “Where is she?”
I would see her during summer break. She would come to visit our dad. She wasn’t allowed to see our mom. So I would spend the summer with my dad in L.A. while she was there. Sometimes my dad and I (and sometimes my older brother, Jeremy) would go to Idaho to get her. I have the best memories of being In Idaho with her. But, I never understood why she was there. I remember one summer I tried to explain to Jacque that we had the same mom. My grandma overheard and told me never to talk to Jacque about our mom and that she would explain it to her when she felt she was old enough to understand. Six years later, I snuck Jacque out of our dad’s house one day and took her to our mom’s house. We went swimming with our brothers (who had no idea she was their sister) and our mom cooked us lunch. But, it wouldn’t be until the Christmas after she turned 18 that Jacque was able to be with our mom for the first time. (More about that visit to come.)
There was one time that I will never forget; they exchanged two words…
We had a “meet-up” spot – Raging Waters in San Dimas. My step-mom, Kimberly Ann, would meet our mom for the drop-off. Normally, they picked me up first and we would go together to get Jacque from the airport. This particular time Jacque was already there and my little brothers (Jade and Jordan) were in our car. They were 5 and 3. Kimberly and Jacque were already there waiting for us; windows rolled down. We pulled up to the passenger side where Jacque was sitting. My mom rolled down her window, and for the first time, my mom said, “Hi, Jacque.” Jacque smiled. I can still remember, right before I got out of the car, Jade asking my mom, “Who is that, Mom?” She said, “That’s Nicole’s friend.” I would never forget that. I know they were too young to understand.
So, every summer I would go to my dad’s house and I would get to see my sister. Then, summer would end, and I would go home, and she would go back to Idaho, and every time I would cry for days and I wondered why she couldn’t come back with me. For so long I was so mad at myself for not trying harder. I should have asked more questions. I should have fought harder for her to be with me. Why her and not me?
This continued every summer. 3 weeks/once a year. That’s all we got. Until one year I decided to go to Idaho by myself for the summer. I had just graduated. Being the wild-child, 18-year-old that I was, our grandma told me that I was a bad influence on my sister, and I wasn’t allowed back. I didn’t see her again for 2 years.
Then, our 20’s got ahold of us and we really lost touch. I always felt that I missed out on so much, being without my little sister. I tried to substitute our relationship with friendships, but nothing compared. As we got older, I felt like it was my responsibility to protect her. Even now, I still try to protect her from the world. I guess it’s just me making up for our younger years when I wasn’t there. I know now that her life led her to be exactly where she was supposed to be, married to the man she was supposed to be married to, and the mother to my beautiful nieces. But, sometimes I wonder what if… Where would we be if we had grown up together? I’m guessing probably in New York, in some Broadway Musical together! 😉
Regardless of the craziness that is our family, we have a bond now that is unbreakable. She is my other half. My best friend. It’s easy to forget about our past, and that we didn’t grow up together, because when you see us together we are one in the same. But, despite how hard it may have been growing up, I know our stories were written exactly how they were meant to be.