When I was in Los Angeles at the end of May in 1996, I was having lunch with some of my sister’s friends in a local restaurant. I remember sitting there with them at a long table by the window, eating pizza while people strolled by outside, when I saw this actress whose name I never knew until I looked it up today. My sister and I had developed the habit of pointing out to each other and discreetly identifying celebrities we’d see in public when I’d visit her in LA (except that time we saw Richard Lewis, dressed all in black as usual, walking down the street one evening. We followed him rather indiscreetly for a little while, until he started looking back and staring at us like we were staring at him, doing so in such a way that it made us laugh as we veered off to our original destination).
Anyway, upon seeing this particular actress walk into the restaurant, smiling and laughing with a few friends, I thought, Ooo, it’s the actress from ER! I’ll can’t wait to tell my sister that I saw her!
For one moment when “Jeanie Boulet” walked into the restaurant, I blissfully forgot that I was not in LA to visit my sister, but there to gather her belongings and cat from her Beverly Hills apartment. For that one grief-less moment I had forgotten, because it was so new, that she was dead and that we would never again point out celebrities to each other. She couldn’t take me sightseeing to show me where famous TV and movie scenes were filmed, we could never again venture into Hollywood Hills to take pictures in front of OJ’s house, and would never again go to Griffith Park or the Observatory, where she had once taken me to see a Pink Floyd laser show.
The anguish is not as intense as it was several years ago, but everyday there is something in my life that reminds me of my sister, or something we did together, or something only she would ever think of doing for me, such as the Pink Floyd light show. She was such an enormous part of my life and such an influence, that when she died, part of me died too.
Every time I see Gloria Reuben on tv, that vision of the memory comes back to me, and I don’t know how to feel about it, because I feel so many things.