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Life after 40

published: 2009-10-23

My sister’s 40th birthday. It has me sneaking through her house when she’s not there. Hanging up balloons. Going through her basket of photos. I know where to look, she’s had that basket since we were really young. She got it when we lived in the Philippines. And it has always been where she keeps photos. Some letters too. Going through those photos brought flashes of our childhood back, of hers which has the same images, yet from a different pont of view. Different memories. I always stupidly smiled my way through photos. She didn’t.
I distinctly remember my mother’s 40th. She was chain smoking all day long and having a hard time smiling. We had designed a cake for her, which a Lebanese woman had made and I couldn’t wait to give it to her. Only now do I understand why, even when cutting the cake, her smile did not come naturally.
On going through my sister’s photos I came across a letter my mother had written to both my sister and I. I was in bad shape at the time. My mother explained how frustrating she found it and how sad she felt. I don’t remember receiving that letter. I do remember she gave me a poem, and how much it helped me. And that when I moved in with my sister she said I had a right to die. I believed her, and that helped too.
Recently, I completed a screenplay which I wrote with a director. It is called “My Sister Came by Today.” It is about a woman who wants to die. It is about being a sister and being a mother. It is about understanding as the essence of love.

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