I am a middle child. That’s my gig, more or less. Sure, I wear other hats. Daughter, comedian, snarky blogger . . . but the relationship that defines me the most is being the younger sister to Katie and the older sister to Andrew.
I love my brother and sister. I might not always tell them that, I might not always treat them like I do, I might give them every reason in the world to want to kill me–I send more late night drunk texts to them than any piece of potential, er, friend– but at the end of the day they’re stuck with me, they love me unconditionally, and I am so. freaking. lucky.
I was three when Andrew was born. My mother went into labor just two days before Thanksgiving in 1982, which I LOVED. Not only did I get a chocolate cigar, I got to eat a tasty frozen meal at the hospital. No, I am not being sarcastic. It was delicious! I also got to play with toys that were not mine. HOW could that be bad??? It was flat out awesome!
I was BORN to be a big sister, though not the responsible, care-taking one. That’s has been my older sister Katie’s job, and she has EXCELLED at it. No, I was put on this Earth to be that silly sister who you know will one day become the crazy Auntie Lizard to your children, the one where you drop off the kids for the weekend, and they’ll come back with finger paint all over their faces and they may be kind of wired because Lizard totally burned the Gorton’s fish sticks that she was supposed to feed them and instead took them to Friendly’s and let them get adult sized-sundaes and three bags of M&M’s–regular, peanut, and pretzel. Oops!
Luckily, we have not gotten to that point yet, though we will soon! My brother Andrew is a grown man, and he’s expecting his first child, my goddaughter Charlotte. At 6’7, Andrew may not be my LITTLE brother anymore but he will always be my younger brother. And I will ALWAYS be there to take care of him, even when he thinks he doesn’t need me to.
Once a big sister, always a big sister. And that’s why the story of Sean Collier, the brave MIT police officer who lost his life at the hands of the Boston Marathon bombing perpetrators on Thursday, has hit me so hard. Just 26, Sean could have been my brother. We both grew up in Catholic families North of Boston–he in Wilmington and I in North Andover. We both graduated from local public schools, we both moved to Somerville after college graduation, we both even played kickball for WAKA, the World Adult Kickball Association. It’s interesting how in some ways our lives completely overlapped, though separated by almost a decade.
The Boston Marathon bombings devastated me on so many levels. I grew up attending the Marathon every Patriot’s Day. My father would take us close to the finish line on Boylston Street and I’d push my way to the front, just like beautiful, innocent Martin Richard, who was killed by the bombings on Monday, April 15. I was actually supposed to go home and watch the marathon this year for the first time since I moved to New York City in 2006. I was so excited, but then I had to cancel my plans because I had an interview on Monday. Even that morning I was sad I would not be there. My friend Christina posted a picture on Facebook of the finish line before the start of the race, and I commented at 8:40am: “This kills me! I was supposed to come home to watch the marathon but I have an interview today. Have fun!”
I went to my interview Monday morning and decided to spend the day as a tourist. I was leaving the New York Public Library at 3:45pm when I saw I had a flurry of texts, emails and voicemails. My New York friends all thought I was in Boston, and they wanted to make sure I was okay. Okay from what? I thought. Then I noticed a text from my brother, who lives in Chicago, asking if I had heard from dad. Why, I asked. Andrew wrote back that there was a bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Our father works a block away. What the …? I dropped to my knees in Bryant Park, the wind knocked out of me. I called my mother, a teacher in the North Andover public school system who was home due to April vacation, to check if Dad was okay. She assured me he was. And while I was relieved to know he was safe–so many people were not okay. I was blinded, devastated, and heart-broken.
Three people lost their lives on Monday, April 15: Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi. Many more were injured. And as if that wasn’t staggering in its magnitude enough, one more person was murdered in the pursuit for justice in catching these killers. Sean Collier. Sean Collier, who woke up on Thursday morning, not knowing that the day would be his last, who was just doing his job in keeping the MIT campus safe.
Martin Richard. Krystle Campbell. Lu Lingzi. Sean Collier. These are the names that matter. These are the names that I choose to remember.
As a city and nation grieve, let us be reminded that every day is a gift. And part of that gift–for better or for worse, in good times and bad–is our family.
To my brother Andrew–I love you. To man who could have been my brother–Sean Collier–I thank you.