I wrote this piece for the funeral service of my dear sister Erin. She passed away suddenly. She was 42 years old. I cannot even comprehend all the ways in which I will miss her.
“MeanAmye” (Me and Amye pronounced quickly) This is what I was called for the first part of my life.
Meanamye — It is how Erin referred to me. To us.
One word. Meanamye.
We were one word. Joined at the hip, so to speak. We climbed trees together. We rode bikes together. We dressed up and put on epic performances together. Performances we would then inflict upon any one who was available. Performances to the song Footloose or Vogue – or a reenactment of “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” from Dirty Dancing. We made up dances to all of our favorite songs. And really – We never needed an audience. We just needed each other. Meanamye
Erin and I shared a room until I was 10. I can still see the yellow shag carpet. The twin beds which we often pushed together. The dolls and stuffed animals scattered. Our record player spinning on our antique dresser. The little black chest at the foot of her bed. Remnants of a fort we’d been building tossed around. Our room was very meanamye…
…Most of the time.
However, I can think of a few moments where neither of us wanted to be meanamye. In fact, one such conflict accelerated to the point of full-blown asset division. I’m not sure who mediated – possibly our American Girl dolls – but it was determined that our room should be divided straight down the middle. Masking tape was the obvious choice for border drawing. Down it went – a solid line of rough tape, clinging to that yellow shag, dividing the room in half. She had her side and I had my side. All was fair. Only – one slight problem—the line drawn split the room such that the door was on my side – leaving Erin trapped on her side. Back into mediation with the dolls and care bears we went – until it was decided that we should redraw the line to include a neutral zone allowing Erin to exit the room. My side of the room also contained the closet – which we had been tasked with cleaning that very day. Once again negotiations were made, the neutral zone expanded to include the closet. And so it went until ultimately we lost track of all our masking tape lines and just went back to meanamye.
The meanamye vibe was often extra strong when we were scheming. Scheming to sneak extra treats after dinner, or stay up late, or get mom and dad to let us play longer – “PLEEEASE Puleeeeease, Meanamye want to play just a little longer” she’d say with the best, most innocent, absolute sweetest face ever. (Erin always did “sweet” better than me.) But our scheming peaked when we were trying to avoid getting in trouble. For example, let’s say there were a couple little girls who might have been told to stop breaking branches off the magnolia tree in the front yard. But those two girls may have discovered that magnolia branches are a bit like bungees in that one can jump from a height whilst hanging on a branch and it will BOING—act like a spring – until it doesn’t and it breaks from too many BOINGS. And two little girls might decide that the best option is to shove the relatively large branch back into the tree, broken end facing out and covered by other smaller branches ripped off the tree. There – meanamye live to see another day! No one will notice. That is until Dad inquired about the very brown branch hanging raggedly from the very green magnolia tree. Oooops. Our schemes weren’t always successful, but we were still meanamye.
Erin was my first best friend. And she was solid. Her love was solid. Not simple or even sweet. But real. She taught me that love is real – with as much complexity as there is in the universe. But despite that complexity – and maybe even in spite of it – there is joy. MeanAmye changed over time. Life speeds up. There were boyfriends and breakups. Friday night lights and graduations. Youth group and summer camp. College and the wildness of our 20s. New jobs. New friends. And then motherhood. I remember where I was when Erin called to tell me that she was going to be a mother. So much joy. A baby girl. The pace of life increased again as it does when there are children. We were meanamye less often. In fact, there were long periods of time when we didn’t talk as much. And then Daddy died. I picked Erin up and we drove together to Beaumont. Suddenly, there in the car we were meanamye again – singing loudly to old sappy songs, getting a little lost on the Texas backroads and joking about not knowing where we were going – and silent about not knowing how to navigate the grief that was creeping up on us.
Erin and I both found our way through our lives, separate and together. Sometimes there were lines; drawn with the flimsiest of tape. And there were broken branches that we tried and failed to hide. But beyond it all, WE stayed. Meanamye stayed. Her strength came directly from her deep love of Chrissy. I witnessed her power as a mother. I felt the ferocity of that love. And I carried it into my own life as a mother – I carry it still. Her love. This is how I want to remember her. I will remember her sweetness and her laughter – of course. Of course that laughter echoes in all of our memories. And that is good. And right. But I also want to remember her fight. Her determination to love. Her fierce, unstoppable love.
Our bond, I will keep it with me always. It is the honor of my life to have ever been called Meanamye.
Here is a link to her obituary and information about memorials.