You died one week ago today. One week. How can this be when it feels like only seconds have passed? I gave your eulogy. I said something funny and made people laugh just like you asked me too. Do you have any idea how hard that was? I think you probably do. It was you getting the last laugh on me, wasn’t it? It took me days to write and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. I finally deleted the whole damn thing the night before your funeral and went to Cayucos Tavern at midnight. I drank way too much and sang Rolling Stones songs way too loud. Can you believe that? Me, getting soused until 2a.m. and making a fool of myself in public. How unlike me, right? The next morning, I sat in bed and wrote, bawling my head off the entire time. Did you hear me yelling at you? How could you be so selfish and leave me? How could I be so selfish and want you to stay?
Anyway, here it is. I mean, just in case you missed it.
The first time I met Kelly, she was 10 days old and I was 1100 days old and Char was just old. My mom came home from the hospital carrying this pink blanket that she laid on her bed and I thought surely I was finally getting that monkey I wanted. I remember lying on my parent’s bed, disappointed for a moment that she wasn’t a monkey but kissing Kelly’s forehead again and again, smelling the sweetness of her skin. She smelled like sugar cookies to me.
I loved my baby sister. We had the best times together. Like the first time our mom left us home alone and Kelly and I decided to build a fort in the living room. The living room we weren’t allowed to play in because it was reserved for company. The living room with the brand new Mediterranean, putrid green furniture. The living room with the giant naked angel lamp. Yeah, that living room. As soon as our mother’s car was half way out the drive, Kel and I ran to the garage and got a can of my dad’s infamous twist and tie. Back in the house we strung that miraculous twirly green wired string from the giant bulbous putrid green Mediterranean lamp on one side of the room all the way over to the giant naked angel lamp on the other side of the room. Then off we ran to our bedroom, grabbed our bedspreads off our beds and flew to the living room squealing with anticipation. This was gonna be freakin awesome. As we flung our bedspreads over the twist and tie, the two lamps hurled themselves at us at something like a million miles an hour. I’m pretty sure I heard the angel screaming.
As teenagers, Kelly and I went different directions. My life goal was to get married and quickly over-populate the world. Kelly’s goal was to rule the world. She started at KFC and ended up in one of Corporate America’s corner offices. It was downright freaky watching her morph into our dad, Charles Casas. I mean she had the business suits, the Cadillac and minions. I remember her boss buying her a black leather jacket one Christmas. It was beautiful. I especially liked the writing on the back of it: The Wicked Witch. It’s what I had called Kelly for years. I felt jealous many a day at her life. I still didn’t have a monkey and she had flying monkeys. The truth was, those monkeys loved her. I think a lot of them idolized her. She deserved everything she achieved. She did it the old fashioned way. She earned it.
As adults, Kelly and I drifted apart for a minute. We didn’t understand each other very well. Then the first brain tumor happened and nothing else mattered. Our differences didn’t matter, our life choices didn’t matter, our faith or lack thereof didn’t matter. Only one thing mattered. We were in it to win it. Together. Kelly and every single person she loved and who loved her. We were in it to win it.
For years I wrote about Kelly’s journey. Some people were amused. Some people were offended. I was told more than once that I was inappropriate, disrespectful and rude. I made fun of my dying sister’s circumstances. She was the butt of my jokes. I posted pictures of her with really bad hospital hair. I put our private conversations out there for the world to read. There was only one reader I ever wrote for though. Kelly. She told me from the beginning I was not allowed to cry. Too many people were crying over her life and it made her sad. She asked me to write about her life. She told me I had to be funny. The best days ever for me were hearing Kelly laugh. That and hearing her call me a moron. Moron meant I had hit a home run for her. Like not that long ago, she was really sad. And she was worried about me. She asked me where I saw myself in ten years if I didn’t make some changes.
“Well, Kel, ten years from now I believe I will be in the poor house, jail or a convent. It’s hard to decide which way to go.”
That got a “moron” from her.
Kelly’s last words to me were, “Say something funny.” She said it twice so I made fun of her hair. Yeah, right there in the hospital as my sister lay dying, I made fun of her. A few nights after Kelly was gone, I realized she was talking about today. She was worried about all of us. She wanted us to laugh.
In closing, I want to say thank you.
Thank you Theresa for being the one Kelly would save if we were all on a sinking ship with only two life vests. We love you.
Thank you Rachel for loving and caring for my little sister through thick and thin and I am not talking about her weight fluctuations. We love you.
Thank you Cher. Thank you. For cooking. For cleaning. For yelling at Kelly to get off her ass and walk. For laughing with me until we cried and crying until we laughed. For sleeping with Kelly when she was afraid and sleeping with me when my heart was broken. Thank God for women like you that sleep around. You’re an angel and I love you.
Thank you Char and Debi, for still being alive. I love you both. Char, I promise to let you put makeup on me and do my hair. You can even take me shopping now and then. I promise to pretend I like it. Deb, I promise to call you and talk about Char behind her back like little sisters do. We can laugh and giggle at how old she is. It’ll be fun. I promise.
To Kelly’s minions, past and present. Thank you for loving her, encouraging her, writing and emailing. Calling and visiting. Thank you to “her girls”. Karen, Gina, Denise, Nicole, Pam and all the rest of y’all for all the weekends. She dreaded you seeing her before you got there and then did nothing but talk about what a great time she had with you. How much you did for her, physically, spiritually and emotionally.
To our family……there are just too many of us to name but I can honestly say, Kelly loved every single Walter/Casas family member. She loved you.
And finally, David…..Thank you. I know it wasn’t easy. I know how hard she could be on you. I also know how much she loved you. I thought it was totally gross when she told me she was dating a tattooed biker. Then I got to know you. I still think you’re gross but not because you’re a tattooed biker, just because you’re a guy. We love you David. Remember…..we‘re still a part of your posse…..or gang…..or pack……or whatever it is you people call it.
So there it is. Did I do ok, Kel? I made people laugh. That’s what you wanted, right? I think that’s all I have to say to you for now. In truth, I am not speaking to you today. I am really angry with you. So is Char. That’s right, we are talking about you behind your back. Deal with it!