When I was ten years old, my father woke me up, and told me that my sister, Jerilyn had been killed in a plane crash. We just hugged and cried. Inside, I haven’t stopped crying since. But I can’t really understand why. I can’t remember her. I don’t even remember what her voice sounded like.
Through it all, our family was close, so that made it easier. But we did not talk about Jerilyn, or the accident–ever. That’s sad because her death, at age sixteen was a defining moment in my life. Twenty-nine years later, it still is. King Solomon the Wise said, in Ecclesiastes, “There is time to be born, and time to die.” Just not this way and this soon.
Holidays should have been festive, but, somehow, someway, the feeling of loss was always there. Whether it was Thanksgiving or Rosh Hashanah, my mom would raise her glass, and say, “may we all be together next year.” A shiver went through my spine, as I tried not to cry. Even at holiday time, that mean monkey was always on our back.
To this day, twenty-nine years later, I try, really try, to not think about what might have been. But it’s hard. Her death, and the trauma it caused, has become a part of who I am. But like the Rabbi said, when he came to our house after the plane crash, “One day, you’ll smile again.” He is right.
Steve Feldman, NY, lost his sister Jerilyn, 16, in a plane crash in Cuzco, Peru, August 9, 1970