October 13th is a day that isn’t marked on my calendar although it should be. It’s a day that I’m embarrassed to say can go by without my notice. October 13th is the date of my oldest sister’s birth. Jennifer Marie was born on October 13, 1975. She was the first child for my parents. Three months after her birth, Jennifer passed away.
As a child, my parent’s third child, I grew up knowing I had two sisters. Jennifer was a part of discussions. We decorated the house at Christmas with her first Christmas decorations. I’ve always felt like I knew her.
As an adult, I’ve always wondered what she would look like. Would she look like me since my brother and other sister look a like? Even though I like to think she would be my twin, I have visions of her looking just like my mom when she was young – long strawberry blond hair parted down the middle. I’m convinced she would have freckles. My sister, my brother and I also have 3 very different, very distinct personalities. Amy, once the wild child, is now grounded with a very level head and great maternal instinct. I can be the dreamer and always a little anxious in life. Seth is full of big ideas and high hopes. I can’t help to think that each of us carry a portion of her spirit with us. Perhaps she is the perfect balance between us three siblings.
When I was in High School my family made a trip back home to Wisconsin. While we were there, we visited the cemetery where Jennifer is buried. My brother was still young – maybe 8 or 9. The emotions of the day were very real to all of us but hard to understand for my younger brother. Our parents were visibly emotional. As a teenager, I couldn’t even imagine the loss my parents experienced when Jennifer passed away (I still can’t). As we drove away from the cemetery, Seth was full of questions. He wanted to understand. He was curious about where she was and if she was okay.
“How do we know Jennifer is in Heaven?” he asked my parents.
As soon as he asked my parents this question, a huge rainbow appeared in the sky. It was all my brother needed to see to feel like Jennifer is happy. He didn’t ask anymore questions.
This past Thursday was Jennifer’s birthday. I woke up and went about my day as usual. I hadn’t made the connection that it was Jennifer’s birthday. I didn’t remember until my mom sent me a text to express her love for all of her children. As I was driving to work, I was talking to Christian on the phone. For some reason I started to talk about Jennifer. Christian and I have probably talked about my sister a dozen times our entire relationship. Although my brain forgot it was her birthday, something was there to remind me.
Later that day while I was in yoga class, Virginia Beach was treated to a beautiful double rainbow. Christian saw the entire rainbow from one end to the other while he was surfing. I can’t help but smile and feel the embrace from my oldest sister. I like to think that the part of her that I carry with me was hugging me for being in a yoga class that I love. I like to think she was smiling at my husband. I like to think that she is proud of who I’ve become and the journey our entire family has been on through life.
Every time I see a rainbow, I smile. Of course my sister would find a beautiful piece of the world to allow her spirit to shine through.
Some how my parents found the rainbow in that horrible rain storm, and they have loved us all a little bit more because of Jennifer.