Tuesday, October 19, 2010


My cousin, Jennifer, came to visit me yesterday. She took me out to lunch. It was a treat. I don't get out too much these days, especially for a lunch date. She drove from Connecticut, and we spent the afternoon together.
I love my cousin Jennifer. She has always been like a sister to me. We grew up loving one another. She would come to Long Island from Brooklyn, and spend time with me in the summer, and I would go to Brooklyn. Those times were magical. A sleepover that went on for nights. I remember when she would first arrive, I almost couldn't believe how many nights she would be sleeping over. I would count them out in my head, and squeal with delight. The possibilities of all the fun we were going to have were limitless.  
 We laughed so much. She and I both have a pretty good sense of humor. We would laugh until we almost peed our pants, and mucous came out of noses on more than a few occasions. We talked about boys, and girls in school that we thought were bitchy. We showed each other our clothes. Jenn had braces, and I never did, so I often felt jealous. I got my period, and breasts, way before her, and I know she felt jealous. We loved each other, yet there was always a little bit of competition. That would always lead us to fight. It really was a sibling relationship. A love/annoyance relationship. Never hate.
Jennifer and I continued to be in and out of each other's lives. We both lived in NYC together at the same time. Countless, crazy nights, stumbling out of bars only to be greeted by the rising sun happened more times than I can say. Shared pains over idiot boyfriends. Tears spilled, and more laughs than I can remember. Dinners out, and movies. Walks around the city, and shopping together. Family get-togethers, and Christmas present exchanges. Throw a few sucky New Years in, and a couple of job "layoffs" and there you have it. Jennifer and me.
One Christmas, we exchanged presents on Christmas Eve. I got her some Prescriptives crap, and Jenn handed me an envelope. A card. In it was a ticket. It was for the symphony, at Lincoln Center. She had the other ticket. We had a date for the following week. Jenn was taking me out to dinner before the performance. I thought it was nice. I had never been to Lincoln Center, so I was interested in going, but not overly excited.
We went downtown to dinner. To one of my favorite restaurants. Raoul's. It is a minuscule little French restaurant. Very dark, and a little bit snobby. I think it has been there forever. Great red wine, and a menu written in French. I know mussels, and steak in French, so I always got one or the other.
Dinner was great, and after a glass or two of wine, I really didn't want to go all the way uptown to see the performance. I was happy to stay downtown, ditch the show, and head to a fun bar for the night. But into a cab we hopped, and to Lincoln Center we went. It really is an impressive place. Lot's of people, going to and fro. A mix of people. Lot's of activity. Excitement in the air. We headed to the auditorium where the symphony performs. We were early. We watched the place fill up. Two little old ladies sat directly in front of us. We both thought it was sweet, and wondered what their relationship was.
It was a violin concerto. The members of the symphony filed onto the stage, and there were a ton of violinists. They dimmed the lights, and began to play. It was so exciting. It was loud, and the drums were like thunder. You could feel the music in your belly. You could sense it leading up to something. I was so surprised at how much I was enjoying it. I was glad I came.
And then, a woman walked on to the stage. She wore a long black gown. She had red hair, and was very pretty. She was standing, out in front of the symphony. She played along with them, and the music really started to build by this point. And then...she began to play alone. It was mesmerizing. Her whole body moved with the instrument. She swayed, and played the most heartbreaking, painful, sounds that I have ever heard.  The violin almost seemed to be an extension of her soul. I felt that she was in pain, as I watched, and listened. I started to cry. I looked at Jennifer, and she was crying too. Jennifer took my hand. We sat, and cried, and watched, and listened to this most beautiful site, squeezing each other's hands. I was in awe of all of the talent before me. The gift these people had. I noticed the two old ladies in front of us put their heads together. It was all so beautiful.
Jennifer and I have come together through the years since, and gone our separate ways. We both got married within months of one another, and had our first children. Life changing, profound experiences, that we shared. We had a "breakup" for a while, but the reuniting has been wonderful. She is my family, and my friend. My best friend, and at times, not so much. She has always, always, wished me good, and love, and happiness. She has had my best interest, my well being, and my back.
Jennifer's mother died in August, suddenly. I saw Jennifer at the funeral home, and I have never seen such sadness in someones eyes. It was hard to look at her. She is going through a pain that I will never know of. Only when I suffer it, will I understand. I don't know what to say to her. I feel like I have let her down, by my inability to help her. I just want her to be Jennifer again. She will be. But not now. The wound is too fresh.
After our lunch yesterday, we came back to my house. She had to leave within the hour, so I made us some tea. We were talking about our grandmother. She said she had nothing of hers. None of her possessions. I did. I told Jenn that I had a tea set of hers. I got out my step stool, and carefully took it down. I have it up high in a cabinet, so no one can touch it. She thought it was beautiful. It is. Bone china, from Ireland. It is white, with ivy leaves all around it. As the tea water boiled, I washed the cups, and saucers, and the milk pitcher, and set it out for us to use. I have never used it before. It felt like a special occasion all of a sudden.
We made our tea, and added our honey. We sat, Jennifer and I, at my kitchen table, in Pennsylvania, while our children were at school, and Molly chattered away, and sipped tea together, out of our Grandmother's china. Her hand held the delicate cup. It is still the same hand that I remember from our childhood. Her eyes, filled with pain, and wrinkled from years of smiling, are still her eyes. Her tenderness is unchanged.
For a moment in time, we sat, and sipped tea, out of our Irish grandmother's china, each with our own pain and sadness.
I love you Jennifer.

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