There are moments, in particular in the past three years, when I have wondered, had my big sister made another choice would her fate not have been so sudden. Perhaps, had she not moved out to Los Angeles, her story—the life she led in L.A.—would have had a quiet, gentle ending. When I graduated from high-school, I moved to Los Angeles to attend college. Six months later, Brenda came out to L.A. too. She took an immediate liking to the statuesque palm trees that contoured innumerable blocks; the sprawling, crowded freeways; the vivid sun that tainted the landscape citrus nearly year-around; the popular beaches; and the Hollywood mystique that gave the metropolis its trend-setting glamour.
While she would enroll in a two-year college, in time Brenda would stop attending and began this journey of searching for an invisible cure to the deep yearning in her spirit. She longed for something that seemed so out of reach. What became clear—Brenda had no idea who to be and what to do, and her future became vague. Los Angeles can make you feel lost, groundless and disconnected, and its elusive nature has a way of testing those with the slightest crack in their armor. Even though my big sister was smart and charming and style-conscious and fashion-model-pretty, she got lost in a lifestyle that would ultimately trap her. This eventually led her to wander too long in psychological pain. Even while she tried time and time again to get back on track—and she had her moments—Brenda had the hardest of times recapturing that well-liked, nameless quality that made her so popular when we were growing up. Without a doubt, she made the effort. Somewhere along the way she began to live each day on very thin ice. It is my solemn and sincerest hope that she is now in a very sacred place.
It’s funny. While I spent a large part of my adult life seeing her as this complicated personality that I had the hardest time getting along with; now, since her transition three years ago today, I see her as the big sister who always had my back. It didn’t matter how long we went without speaking to each other; Brenda still had my back. I cannot recall over the past year or two when I stopped crying, and often out of nowhere, because she is no longer someone I can pick up the phone and call. But sometimes, in moments when my mind wanders, I recall something she said or did, and I laugh out loud.