My Christine

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Everyone has that one cool older cousin— the one that just makes you think, “Wow, she’s so rad! I want to grow to be just as cool as she is!” The kind of girl that listens to alternative rock or smooth jazz and wears giant clunky Doc Marten boots heavier than a WWII German Panzer tank.

But, this chick wasn’t so cool that she scoffed at the letters her little cousin wrote to her on bright pink Hello Kitty stationary. No, she wrote back diligently, even though, at the time, the little 12-year-old me was about as cultured and interesting as a really bad episode of Full House (The original one… with the damn Olsen Twins!)

But, it didn’t seem to matter to her. She loved me just the same.

That was my Christine.

Given the age difference between us (8 years), as I grew, so did our relationship. I stopped being the annoying little cousin that talked about Legos and glitter pens. I became a grown-up person that talked about grown-up things. Like why the hell did she think that a kalimotxo was preferable to a 7/7? And even before the ATV wreck that messed up her hand, why on Earth did her handwriting still have to be so awful?

We’d talk current events, books, and how to roast the perfect leg of lamb. We’d strategize ways to castrate our least-favorite politicians while gleefully eating our Aitas’ homemade tripota.

When my mom was diagnosed with the brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme, she was there each step of the way until the end— hugging, and squeezing me, with a remarkable amount of restraint so that she wouldn’t crush my cripply ribs. If you knew Christine, you knew it was nearly impossible for her to hug with anything less than Superhuman strength. But, for me, she managed.

That was my Christine.

As we were both only children, we shared an extra-special bond. We understood the joys, and sometimes burdens, of such a thing, while relishing in the stories of our Aitas— which we told with great vigor and our very best Basque accents. We commiserated together when our parents wouldn’t let us dye our hair purple, but secretly rejoiced when Christine and her badass-self went out and got her lauburu tattoo.

On that September afternoon, 12-years-ago, when she called me to tell me that the pathology report had come back from her surgery, her voice was strong and steady, like a soldier ready for battle. “It’s malignant. Stage 4.” My heart stopped and then began to pound in a beat that nearly drowned out the sound of her next words… “It’s glioblastoma multiforme.

I knew in that moment what her eventual fate would be. But, I waited to cry until we got off the phone. And I cried. And I cried. And I said a prayer, “Please let her live long enough to see her little boy become a young man. Let her fight it off until then.” And, the fucking lioness that she was, so she did.

Her loss is great, but the life she lived was even greater. She loved fully and deeply— and that gift lives on in all of us. I know there will come a day, very soon, when I’ll reach for my phone to tell her something, but she won’t be there. And my heart will break just a little, once more. But, I’ll hear her voice in my head, “Don’t be sad, caca. It’s going to be okay.

That was my Christine.

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13 thoughts on “My Christine

  1. This made me a weepy hot mess all over again, thankfully I’m home with my big girls pants OFF !! Such a beautiful post ! You two were a dynamic duo!! I will miss her ever SO much but I sure am glad that from knowing her I now have you in my life ❤️

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  2. fran huston

    Dear Elizabette, I am so sorry about the great loss of Christine, your cousin, your friend. I was I had known her. Love ❤️ Fran

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  3. Marianne

    A wonderful tribute to your beautiful cousin. I also lost a cousin that was a huge part of my life. We were very fortunate to have them in our lives and will always remember all the good times together. My prayers go out to you and your family.

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  4. Mayté Ocafrain

    This is wonderful, heartfelt tribute to your cousin, Elizabette.. May God comfort you in your time of sadness and always. Love.XOXO.

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  5. Lisa Verruso (Leesa Weesa)

    Hi Elizabette, I know exactly how you feel. Christine and I were 4 years apart and I very much wanted to be like my cool older cousin. She had a great passion for everyone and everything in her life. She will be greatly missed.

    Like

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