The other day, I drove my parents and little sister to La Guardia airport after their week long visit to the Big Apple. It was 4:30 in the morning and we were all exhausted. We rode mostly in silence through the dark, deserted streets of New Jersey, Manhattan, and Queens. The only noise came from the radio that was at half volume playing Madonna’s “Ray of Light,” a popular 90s song that reminded me of my high school days. I suddenly thought of the one person who wasn’t there, my older sister Regina.
The early car ride, dark morning, and song took me directly back to Regina and I's high school paper route. I laugh to myself every time I think about those days. I scarcely remember doing it. I suppose because I was in such a sleepy stuper most of the time. I do remember that music though. The good thing about being in a car at 4 in the morning, is radio stations don’t play commercials. So at least we got uninterrupted Alanis Morsette, Backstreet Boys, and Ace of Base. There was one song by Natalie Merchant, where she repeats the phrase, “I want to thank you, thank you, thank you” over and over again. I think one of the hardest times I ever laughed in my life is when Regina started singing, “You’re welcome, you’re welcome, you're welcome” back to her. I know, our sense of humor was way off balance in those early morning hours, but I still smile when I remember it.
I had often thought the week before as our family minus one, looked out over the top of the Empire State Building, and gasped in awe at the majesty and emotion of the Statue of Liberty, Regina would like this. But as we unloaded the suitcases at the terminal and I said goodbye to my family, I knew she had been there with us the whole time and until we were all together again in person, pictures, e-mail, thoughts, and memories would be enough.