Twelve long years ago I had a baby brother with blonde hair and a cute smile, two older sisters, brunettes, popular with all the boys, and a mother and father. This was my family; this was our family. It all stopped.
These days I have a baby brother with brown hair but still with the cute smile (like my clever sisters he went with the braces option rather than telling the dentist to go away) a sister with brown hair and a beautiful baby boy and a mother and father.
There is of course one thing missing and that will never change and although it all sounds so obvious, when you lose your sister three months before her 18th birthday you kind of try to all forget that this new reality, this new family is going to be forever.
When Catherine’s birthday comes around each year it is always a strange day. A mixture of joy and remembering while experiencing near on simultaneously such sadness you could just curl into a ball and dissapear into your thoughts and the memory of our childhood together forever.
Moving house I have come across so many things that remind me of her. Twelve years on, several breakdowns and a new home you wonder you will forget what she sounded like, what she did and how she was. People ask how many brothers and sisters you have and you tell them but bite your lip because it would be a bit harsh to tell the poor man blow drying your hair that you had two sisters and one brother but now you only have one brother and one sister but you cannot deny the fact of the existence of someone so wonderful so you tell them and then it kicks you once again to think of all the things the family could have been if she was still around.
Yesterday would have been my sister’s 30th birthday. I so wish it had been.
I have to stop, I haven’t learnt to blog and cry while wearing these bloody glasses yet and they appear to have steamed up.
Happy birthday to a darling sister, friend, daughter, cousin, and all round good egg, Catherine Yvonne O’Neill.
This post has been difficult to put together, not because I have too few friends but because I am blessed to have so many. The only way I could think of to prevent this post turning into another never-ending essay was to try to decide which of my wonderful friends I would choose as bridesmaids if I was ever to get married. Although I am sure this list will put the fear of God into my parents financial five-year plan I couldn’t help but include so many and would have included more if I had not been trying to stop this post becoming a bore. Here in no particular order, other than the first who will always be my best friend, are the women in my life who have moved me to tears with their kindness, their generosity, their jokes and anecdotes and by always being there to clasp my hand tightly when everything around us has been falling apart.
Katharine Ryland – Whilst I was at university myself and Katherine lost touch for some time. It was inevitable in a way, although we had been the best of friends since we were 13 we both had such busy lives and it was hard to find the time to stay in touch. If I’m honest I always felt it was my fault that we’d drifted apart, she had started going out with a guy who I struggled to get on with and though I tried to hide it I’m sure she sensed it and ultimately I’m sure it effected our friendship. In spite of this we still saw each other from time to time and on my twenty-first-birthday she called me up to tell me she was pregnant. I was delighted for her but I still had another year of study up North and it wasn’t until I moved back home that we got properly back in touch.
We went out with her beautiful baby boy to Cafe Bruxelles and ended up having such a great day that I remember feeling really rather sad about all I had missed sharing with her and I made a decision to make more of an effort to get on with her partner; she was too good a friend to lose and after all she loved him and he made her happy so how could I not.
Not long after this lunch she got engaged and I was so pleased I got to share in her happiness when she told me her news. A few months later whilst out on a girls night in Leicester she turned to me and asked if I wanted to be her maid of honour. I can honestly say that even if I ever get engaged this will remain the happiest moment in my life; we had made a promise to one another when we were 16 in a bar in Lanzarote over a jug of sangria to be each other’s bridesmaids. I had assumed when she got engaged that she might ask someone else to take the job as we had been out of touch for so long so when she asked me I was ridiculously happy.
Although my dress ended up being made by her mother, when we first went shopping to find a dress I could wear she assured me I could pick anyone I wanted and whilst we were in the shop she tried on the dress she had chosen and I started to cry like a child at how beautiful she looked. The night before the wedding I stayed the night at her parents house and we shared her bed together as we had done years ago when we were kids. In the morning I helped her with her make up and getting dressed and did my best to soothe her little boy when he had a tantrum minutes before we were due to leave because he wanted to try on Mummy’s veil. There is a picture of the two of us arm in arm leaving the church and it looks as though we have just emerged from a civil ceremony and still cracks me up when I see it. She made a beautiful bride and I was inspired to give a speech after her husband and father had said their piece about what a wonderful woman she was and how truly lucky her husband was to have her by his side.
We have always shared everything with one another, although to begin with as an only child she did struggle with the concept of sharing clothing. We once had a massive fall out because she refused to let me wear her top as she was convinced I was going to stretch it. There was no secrecy or privacy between us when we were younger; after we got badly burnt on an overcast day in Devon after falling asleep together on the beach we got home and had to rub after-sun into each others ridiculous tan lines. As we soothed each others skin with aloe vera and very gentle application we were simultaneously cracking up with laughter at how silly we both looked.
We found the results of all our exams together and when we were on holiday in Lanzarote we crammed into a telephone booth on the sea-walk of Lanzarote giggling in disbelief at the amount of As Katherine had got. We also helped each other through the dark days; through heartbreak and troubles at home. It was Katherine who held my hand on the way back to my home after my parents had rung hers to ask if they could bring me home straight away because my sister had gone downhill fast and the doctors were concerned that she wasn’t going to make it through the night. She is hilarious, intelligent and caring and even with a baby boy to care for she did so well in her degree that when she graduated she had two jobs waiting for her. I will always be pleased we got back in touch, my life would be nowhere near as fun without her. I will save sharing some of my favourite memories of our friendship as she has asked if she can write a post about her three favourite memories of us but I imagine they might include the time I went skinny dipping with my sister on my sweet sixteenth in Eastbourne at midnight. Other than my sister it will be Katherine who I will tell if I ever find myself knocked up and it will be her who I will want by my side on the day of my wedding.
AC: When me and the boy first got together i always felt a little lonely when I was round at his house. he lived with six other guys, nearly all of who had long-standing girlfriends and I felt a bit of a spare wheel. The one girl who I immediately clicked with however was Anna. She had dreams of being a musical theatre star and although she enjoyed singing as much as me, people actually enjoyed it when she sang. This shared love of singing and a tendency to live our lives in a rather dramatic way means we have spent many a taxi ride home singing away even when the boys beg us to stop. When I met her I remember speaking about her with one of my friends and concluding that she was a natural beauty and that we were actually really rather jealous of her perfectly shaped eyebrows, white teeth and dancers figure. In the early days of our friendship I was rather worried that I might be a bit much for her, when I bumped into her in the library one day and started talking at her at a mile a minute about dissertations and exams and nights out I had been planning she appeared to be somewhat terrified. We became firm friends however after the boys moved to a smaller house and I think it may have helped that I opened my entire wardrobe to her and did my very best to put aside my reservations about vegetarians and would happily make her hippy friendly food whenever we had a dinner party.
The time I realised I had a friend for life was when she agreed to join me in getting dressed up as a witch to go and queue outside Waterstones for the release of the last Harry Potter book in the series. There are few friends who will partake in this kind of humiliation just to keep someone company but Anna came with me in spite of never having read any of the books. We spent the next fortnight driving the boys mad by shutting ourselves away in one of their rooms and banning them entry until we had read at least another four chapters. I think it was whilst we were lying on a bed repeating lines to one another which made us giggle that I realised I had got myself a friend for life who felt as much like a sister as my own blood.
Anna is one of those rare friends who will be by your side even when you have done everything in your power to try to hide away from the world. Three nights after I’d had a nervous breakdown and ended up in hospital I went to the launch of the boy’s first single. I was only able to do so because I had Anna with me the whole time, holding my hand reminding me that I wasn’t crazy and that everything was going to be OK even if it didn’t feel that way at the time. She is able to make me laugh at life events which are otherwise tragic and when me and the boy were having a heap of troubles last year it was Anna who held me whilst I cried my heart out over loss and love still to raw to share. We have both followed our dreams in life and I am sure I would not have had the guts to carry on going for mine if I hadn’t had her for inspiration. She never once gave up on her dream of playing a role in a musical and now she is touring the country playing the part of Neil Sedaka’s wife in the hit play, Laughter In The Rain. She is my Scrabble companion and the only one who is sweet enough not to tell me how dreadful a singer I really am.
In spite of my efforts not to make this an essay I have noticed that all to quickly the word count has crept us and so I will save the other five for another day, I promise you they are worth the space.
- Today’s dress has been donated by my Auntie Bridgeen. It was originally from Primark and thankfully has a slip to preserve my modesty. Katharine and my friend Monica took the photos and the reason I am cracking up in them is because Monica has just told me that I am in trouble with someone because of something I have said on the blog. The gingerbread man was made by Katherine’s son. Katherine gifted me another dress to wear whilst I was at her house, proof indeed that her issues with sharing have been resolved.
Cancer Research once ran a hateful little advert which showed three sisters running together in a beautiful meadow with the thoughtless tagline “One in three people will develop cancer during their lifetime.” The message was painfully clear, one of these girls is going to die of some form of cancer. Now obviously this was an incredibly strong marketing message and I am sure many people donated to cancer research as a result of seeing the advert. For myself however I was furious about the insensitivity of their actions and also I may as well admit a little bit drunk. I had been out with friends from college during the day and having come home to an empty house had polished off the leftovers of a bottle of wine so by the time I saw the advert my mind was in a rather altered state. To this day I feel terrible for the poor soul who picked the phone up to find a tearful teenager on the other day slurring sadly asking them again and again how they could dare to run such an insensitive campaign. In all fairness to her she was incredibly sympathetic and listened to me as I spilled my heart out about how much I missed my sister instead of telling me to go jump.
To this day thinking of the advert still makes me sick. It is partly because I struggle to believe how a charity who dedicate themselves to finding a cure for cancer can be so uncaring about those people who have been left bereaved by losing someone to this terrible disease. The main reason it makes me feel so sick however is that looking back at that advert I see the hidden story behind the statistic. It is not one in three, but more than one in three of us who will develop cancer during their r lifetime. It makes me feel scared but also relieved because it forces me to realise that I am at least lucky enough to still have one sister by my side.
The reason it has taken me so long to upload this posting is because although my childhood memories of my two sisters and brother will forever be tinged by sadness because of our loss I wanted this post to be a celebration of the love I had and still have for my two older sisters. I do not want to focus on the hurt and the sadness, I want to focus on these two brilliant women who I am lucky enough to have in my life; Emma Helen Marie and Catherine Yvonne O’Neill.
One of my favourite memories of when we were little ones is of our twice weekly bath time. My baby brother was still a babe in arms and so bath time was all about girl time. We would splash about in the huge tub attempting to create a giant tsunami which would cause the ducks to get tipped out of the bath. We would push our fingers in the taps and find hours of entertainment in pouring water into our three funny faced buckets. We were total water babies and only when there was more water on the floor than in the bath would our mother step in to get us washed and wrapped up in huge fluffy towels with tiny turbans. After getting squeaky clean we would be marched on through to our parents bedroom to get dried and dressed for bed in a two parent tag team production line. My father would dry our toes whilst tickling our feet before handing us over to my mother who would comb quickly through our hair ignoring the squeals and squirms as our tangles got tugged. They would then take it in turns to get us into a clean pairs of pyjamas with plenty of tickling, cuddles and the fabulous “Arms over your head and drop those guns.”
Although we never got bored of this routine, especially when it was accompanied by story telling and allocated time before lights out to say prayers and build dens there was one time the routine was made to be particularly memorable. The school had been hit by nits and after spending hours freeing us of the pesky parasites my mother decided that the reason all three of her children had fallen pray to the tics was their long hair. She therefore decided to lop it off into a much more manageable length. We all screamed about the unfairness of it all particularly me who was determined to grow my hair as long as my friend Sarah Jane who was able to sit on hers. In spite of our protests my mother decided that as she had a pair of scissors and had once cut my fathers hair (she chopped off all the curls and made him near bold) she was essentially qualified to do the cutting. Fifteen minutes after our haircuts everything appeared to have gone well, and then the hair dried and it became apparent that our cuts were far from even. My two sisters were sent to the hairdressers the next day as they were old enough to be embarrassed by her antics. I however was too young to care too much and decided that it was all for the best as after all I did want to be a boy like George from the famous five who also had her hair short so in spite of the fact that I had a multiple directional slanted bob I was happy enough.
Although I wasn’t the youngest in the family I was the youngest girl and because of this my sisters were destined to spend much of their time acting as my defenders. I have always been ridiculously over sensitive and as I was always fairly slight this meant that my sisters always had an eye out for anyone who might even consider picking on me whilst they were around. I remember being on the school bus when I was 12 and a boy grabbing my wrist to stop me from opening the window; although it was the middle of winter I maintain I was in the right because the bus was jam packed full of teenage boys who were all convinced that Lynx was a substitute for showers and general good hygiene. Emma, my eldest sister pounced like a lioness from out of nowhere and grabbed the boy by the cuff and assured him that he ever laid a finger on me again he would live to regret it. Likewise when I started going to ATC, air training cadets, Catherine nearly clawed one of the senior officers after he made my cry by telling me off for talking during parade. I was always incredibly impressed whenever they came to my defence because at the time I think they both regarded me as a constant annoyance who was prone to temper tantrums and sulking if I didn’t get my own way.
One of the things we argued about the most when we were children is borrowing one another’s clothes. We would have screaming rows on discovering evidence of clothes or shoes being borrowed without asking first. We would scream accusations about clown feet having ruined our favourite pair of shoes and would point furiously at photographs where we were wearing each others dresses or sweaters. I remember once bumping into Cathy in the school corridor and wondering why she didn’t want to stop to talk just as she was about to walk away I spotted that she had on my brand new shirt and chased her all the way to the sixth form common room where she hid till I had to go to lessons. I found a quote which reminded me so much of this moment that I had to include it in the post. ” If your sister is in a tearing hurry to go out and cannot catch your eye, she’s wearing your best sweater. – Pam Brown
In spite of all our arguments I am so glad that I was not an only child; whenever I was getting bullied at school or when our parents were arguing downstairs we always had someones hand to held. When you have sisters you might have to compete for attention and always get stuck with second and third hand clothes but you are never lonely. Whenever we were sad we would climb into each others beds to get a cuddle and tell each other everything was going to be al-right. We would tell each other everything and secrets never stayed secret for long. It was Catherine who would tell me about sex when I was eight after she was traumatised by a booklet from the school nurse. I remember us looking at our parents completely horrified at dinner the next day and when the time came for me to have my talk I told my teachers that there was really no real need as my sister had already told me all I needed to know.
Emma who was the eldest of all of us was a great big sister. When I was a teenager and going through the usual angst she took pity on me and let me come to visit her at University even though I usually managed to get myself into some kind of trouble whilst there. She taught me how to handle my drink and introduced me to poached eggs, muffins and gin and tonic. It was Emma who would teach me how to surf and who taught all of us an alternative much more realistic way to cross the road which I can still hear her saying in my head to this day whenever I cross the road: “Look left, look right, look left, count to three then run across the road.”
My big sister still takes care of me to this day and no matter how many times I have head troubles she never gets mad she just gives me a cuddle, and helps me to pick up the pieces. When I last had a breakdown she travelled hundreds of miles to spend the weekend with me and give the boy a break from trying to care for me. She brought me up my favourite foods, drove me around to get us a takeaway and some rose to numb the pain and even cleaned out the fish to take away at least one worry as well as letting me moan like a child for hours about how miserable I was feeling. In the past she has paid for me to go surfing just because she knew I needed a break and even puts up with giving me countless lifts whilst I wait for my car to be returned from the body shop.
When I was looking for quotes and articles about sisters there were two that stuck ion my mind, one of them was, “What is the good of news if you do not have a sister to share it with.” Although it breaks my heart that there is so much I cannot share with Catherine, such as all the times I have fallen in love since she died, what results I got for my GCSEs, the day I got a frontpage by-line in the MEN, I do realise how lucky I am to have my Emma who always lights up when something good comes my way and who will always lend me a lap or a shoulder to cry upon when I am having a hard time.
The other quote which I fell in love with a bit was by Sara Corpening, “How do people make it through life without a sister?” It makes me realise how lucky we were to have had one another and for all the time we got to spend together. My childhood would never have been as fun without them by my side and I am a better person for having been loved by them.
- Today’s dress is on loan from my sister Emma Helen Marie. It is from some unknown designer and I had to iron it and combine it with an under-slip as it was pretty much see through. My mother and the giant were out and about in the evening so I tried at first to take the photos myself using the landing mirror but in the end I decided to wait up till my mother returned to get some better images. The flowers were a gift from my fairy god mother to my mummy and me.
- Today’s dress is lovely layered silk with leather panelling and a hard zip up the front to stop it ending up looking too girly. I probably should have saved it for a big night out but supplies are running seriously low. Opaque tights and a black T-shirt from gap make it winter suitable and Kurt Geiger wedges make it deliciously difficult to totter around in. I got it from another sample sale and once nearly ruined it by putting it in the wash after spilling balsamic oil down it
- Today’s dress was kindly donated by Sinead Kenny of Market Harborough. It is on loan but was brought from Boohoo. It probably needed a belt to pull it in but the pattern was too pretty to touch it. I’d like to say the ironing was a stunt but I actually have so many dresses to press I just had to keep on with it. My Mummy took the photos again today but the boy provided the tulips in the background as a present to cheer me up after an awful consultation on Monday at the Brandon Unit.
I have been having a bad few face days this week.; there has been an attack of dry skin and even God forbid a spot. When I was a teenager I was lucky enough to never get struck down by acne and other than sporadic attacks of eczema I felt rather smug about my skin. When I reached 24 I was struck down by a series of spots which I had no idea how to handle. Thankfully Clinique were on hand to royally ravish me and fleece me of every spare penny I had by persuading me that a miracle cure could be found within their treatment plans. I must have given them easily a few hundred pounds in the one year I subscribed to their skin care screw-over and though I have a nice make up bag which has the same pattern as this dress (another Valentine’s vintage buy from the boy) none of the products made the slightest bit of difference and in the end I returned to using clean and clear and Freederm. At about a quarter of the price and a lot longer lasting, within weeks I was back to being a smooth skinned albeit slightly skint girl.
Today’s photos are a bit of a disaster due both to the lack of make-up and artistic differences with the photographer who kept telling me to smile and not cover my forehead with my hand or hair. I have excluded the picture where I tell him where he can canter away to but the grumpy expression is proof enough of the tiz. Today I was in rather a mood due to the lack of food in the house and having once again had an accidental lie in. Since the start of this project I have made an effort every day to smother myself in lovely creams, brush my hair at the very least and most importantly of all slather myself in make up. Today largely because I got up late and also because I forgot about the photos until nearly midnight due to a dreadful game of never-ending Scrabble; at one stage I had three Ts a Z and a W. If only I had an F I would have tried putting down a WTF word or what the fuzzle for those of you not in the know.
My mother has always had an amazing collection of cosmetics and so from a young age I always had access to good quality cosmetics. Although she has threatened over the years to put a lock on her door or the cupboard she usually relents and gives me enough testers and barely used bits and bobs to make up a pretty fantastic collection of my own. My sisters never really taught me how to do make up, they both had pretty incredible skin and so with just a lick of mascara and some Nivea Visage they looked like all Irish natural beauties.
I started wearing full make-up on a daily basis from the day my sister died. In the morning the house was descended upon by a host of people who came to lend a hand and offer words of comfort and casseroles but in spite of the hive of activity below decks I remained determinedly asleep in my parents empty bed. I thought that if I kept my eyes closed I could convince myself that it had all been a horrible dream, and that in the early hours of the morning I had not really kissed my sister for the last time and neither had I stood with my family by her side watching our darling Cathy slip away. When my mother’s friend finally managed to rouse me I forced myself to suck it up and get on with it, we had guests after all and I had two broken-hearted parents, a sister and a baby brother who were all consumed with grief and the god damn unfairness of it all.
I decided then and there that if I could just keep it together it would all be alright, I painted my face artfully having been shown how to do so by my mother back before the dark days had arrived. I used thick foundation, powder, bronzer and concealer to cover up the dark circles and force my face into some kind of stability. I heard someone call me downstairs and darted eyeliner and mascara on to ensure there would be no way I could cry and in doing so let my sister down who had been unbelievably brave. She was gone but there was so much to do, all I could think of was that the house was going to have to be cleaned as people would be coming to pay their last respects; the body stays in the house in Irish families until the funeral so everyone can say goodbye; and there would be guests coming to stay with us so someone needed to be there to make tea.
I can’t remember the rest of the day much, I know that we all somehow got through it; somehow we accepted plates and dishes at the doorstep; made the calls that had to be made and thanked people for their words which at the time we barely even heard. I remember at one point during the day going over to one of my oldest friends house along with her cousin and laughing which looking back on it now seems insane but it definitely did happen. When the night came though and everyone had left I remember going in to see her, my older sister who I loved so so much and I remember seeing a book on the side, a stupid Marian Keyes book, Last Chance Saloon which I had read to her up until a few weeks before when she was still conscious. I don’t know why but it was then that it hit me that I was never going to be able to laugh with her again, read her books or even argue with her and I just lost it. I cried every molecule of make-up off knowing then that time might heal one’s wounds but there is always a scar. You never get over it you just learn to live with it eventually, but even now though I thought at the start of this post I could talk about it without breaking down, just thinking of her and all the world lost when she went, I feel my heart-break all over again, the wound splits and I just can’t bear to paint on a perfect face when the pain is so raw it actually aches.
When I opened my wardrobe this morning it was to find some frightfully slim pickings of dresses. I am by the last day of January largely down to a collection of frocks more suitable for ball gowns or beaches. As I had booked a table for myself, the boy and some friends at Cafe Bruxelles in Leicester I had to choose an outfit which I wouldn’t feel too ridiculous in once my coat and my self were parted.
Cafe Bruxelles is one of my favourite places in Leicester City Centre. Lately the city has undergone a terrifying transformation in the form of regeneration and unfortunately, as is usually the case with city centre regeneration, the result is more traditional areas are fast becoming abandoned by most shoppers and shops who have moved to the swankier area where there is less grime and graffiti but also a little less character. There is a host of chain stores and depressingly all too familiar mid-range food chains all offering overpriced dishes which taste pretty much the same whatever you order from the menu.
Amidst these culinary crapes are two fantastic places to eat, Cafe Bruxelles and Cafe Italiano; I shall save going into too much detail about Italiano till another day as the man who runs it is a legend and should I visit there this year he will command an entire post just by his greeting; there is however two very defining characteristics of both places which chains will always lack, a clear sign of who it is who is in charge of the place. When you walk into a restaurant and know immediately who it is who owns the place you know you are in for a treat. In both of these places the owner offers at least a friendly smile when you enter and it is their everyday involvement in the running of the place and the personal pride they invest which ensures you never walk away feeling duped of hard-earned cash. It is a place you take pleasure in paying because you know every pound is well deserved.
I first went to Bruxelles with my God-Mother or Fairy-God-Mother when I was fifteen. I know her as my fairy-god-mother because she used to be able to treat all maladies with the touch of her magical wooden spoon when I was a child. My mother also used to have a magic wooden spoon but this was used to ensure good behaviour; the threat of a beating by the spoon was enough to guarantee goodness and I once came very close to experiencing its wrath when I was nine and swore in front of my mother; I had never known she was a runner but she chased me round the garden path, spoon in hand, for what felt like hours but was probably only mere minutes. Anyway my fairy god mother took me there after a shopping trip to find an outfit for a family wedding. It was only a few days since my sister had died and unfortunately the wooden spoon had failed with its magic so Bruxelles was a treat to try and take my mind off our family tragedy. I still don’t think any of us believe we got on a plane a week after my sister died to attend the wedding in Ireland but people do strange things when they are grieving and even though it was a surreal and difficult experience, we would have felt worse if we had not gone.
Bruxelles was at the time everything it still is today. It was formerly a bank and has a carved out ceiling with intricate paintings all around which look as though they have been finely etched with gold. The bar is long and its fridges filled with unusual beers; we brought six and shared them between four of us, each having a little taste which sounds sensible but becomes a little silly when one glances at some of the labels afterwards only to find some are as strong as 12%. Generally when one goes to Bruxelles, one gets mussels which come with thick white freshly baked bread and frites. It is such a luxury and at £8.99 is enough for two to share as a starter or a light lunch during the day.
That day when I came with my god-mother I was allowed a very small glass of wine and a hot chocolate and though I remember feeling distraught the warmth of the place did help to wake me from the trance I had started to fall into. What is most difficult when someone close to you dies is that afterwards for a long time you feel angry at yourself when you experience joy. Happiness seems somehow inappropriate considering the enormity of what you have lost; it is of course a sign that whether you want it to or not life will go on and if you keep resisting the urge to live you will get left and the despair will eventually consume you completely.
When I chose this dress today I could not help but think of my sisters favourite dress which was a red silk Chinese dress, the one which we eventually had to bury her in as was her wish. In Irish families unlike English ones you lay the body out in the house prior to the funeral it is a tradition which is difficult for those who live in the house as you can find yourself going a little crazy hoping the person might still be able to hear you but in many ways it removes the idea of death as something which is scary and should not be talked of. Later after my sister died my parents brought me a black silk dress for my 17th birthday. It is and was beautiful and when I wear it is mas much a homage to the loss of my sister as it is to the joy she brought us. Today at Bruxelles, surrounded by friends, few of whom had known her I couldn’t help but feel sad and full of sentiment and although I meant for this posting to be about the joys of Sunday dinner at Bruxelles, which by the way was lovely, in my melancholic state thinking as I was of my darling sister it seemed a bit too trivial to post only on luncheon.