My sister Keke would have been forty years old today.
I am her keeper because I still listen to her words of advice. She was the first person I would call when I was a bind or an emotional wreck. Or sometimes I would just show up at her house and sit at her dining room table. She would ask “What’s wrong, Prudence?” Rather than show up, I hear her words internally now. I ask myself “What would Keke say?” Sometimes the answer is “leave that person alone.” My sister never believed in kissing anybody’s ass (and neither do I) or chasing after people who don’t want to be bothered. Sometimes the answer is “fight.” I used to ask her why I had such intuitive dreams about negative things that were happening. She offered “you are a protector.” So when I say “you can’t always lay your burdens down; sometimes you have to go to war” I say it with her in mind. I say it knowing that I have my share of battle scars. Life is war. There will always be a battle.
That last line reminds me of two things: 1) that old gospel song that says “don’t wait til the battle is over. Shout now; you know in the end you’re gonna win.” (We used to sing this in church with all our sisters and cousins. We were affectionately named “the Curry Children.”)
In thinking about the lyrics to that song, I forgot my second point!
I am my sister’s keeper because I love culture reggae, which she lived for. She was a deejay and an avid partygoer. Entertaining and making people happy were her pastimes, and she accomplished that through music and food. I spent many nights dancing non-stop as she played all the hits – reggae, soca, calypso, R&B, hip hop, and in her darkest days she played Yolanda Adams’ songs (gospel). And even now, whenever I hear Beres Hammond or Sanchez, or Yolanda Adams I think of her.
I am my sister’s keeper because she loved her nieces and nephews like they were her own children, and I have three of them. Even now, whenever they experience a milestone or a setback they say “Aunt Keke would have been here.” My daughter graduated high school this past June. While she was sitting on the football field with the rest of her class, a white butterfly landed on her shoulder and stayed there for a while. Afterwards, my daughter told me a story she had heard about butterflies signifying loved ones’ spirits; and how she knew my sister was there in spirit, cheering her on.
I am my sister’s keeper because we have a mother in common; we share a common bloodline. I have three sisters remaining. I am her keeper because although the physical bond between us is broken, the spiritual one is not. I am my sister’s keeper because I’ve shared her life lessons and her pain, and they’re still with me. I like to think that I also harnessed some of her strength, and her will to survive.
Keke was a beautiful spirit who touched everyone who had the pleasure of being her friend or family. But if she ever cursed someone out, they deserved it – and they went on her “list!” 🙂 Many people called Keke their “best friend” – and we could all tell stories about times we’ve shared with her. It’s been five years since she passed, but we still miss her dearly.
Happy birthday to my sister. May she rest in peace.