Tomorrow is the five year anniversary of when my little sister Carissa died in my family’s arms. She had Down Syndrome, and the past two years I’ve shared the same post which always makes a lot of people smile and cry. Which is fitting because that’s what she did in real life, too.
This year, I’ll do just that as well (you can find that here). But I also want to tell you about the time we found her hanging on for dear life from the, well, I’ll get to that…
Carissa, like many special needs kids, had some special skills.
She somehow knew how to triple her weight at will. At 20 lbs., she could make herself weigh more like 60 lbs. She would go limp and flop down when you tried to pick her up. It was cute when she was two. When she was 80 lbs. and ten years old, it wasn’t so cute.
She also was strong. And not just kind of strong. She was so strong that a charging rhino probably couldn’t knock her over. When she didn’t want to do something, or go somewhere, there was no making her do it.
She also was flexible. And limber. And adventurous. And free spirited. And she loved to run around buck naked. From age nothing to the day she left this earth, nudity was her companion. And why not? She wasn’t burdened by such things as social norms, shame, or self-destructive beliefs of what she needed to look like to be beautiful. She would streak because streaking was just better sometimes. She didn’t need a good reason. On more than one occasion I had friends over as a teenager when she suddenly ran from one end of the hall to the other, laughing as she went, nekkid as a jay bird.
And one time when she was seven years old, she combined her dead weight, her strength, her adventurous nature, and her free spirit, and she headed out to the garage, fully declothed, climbed up the closed garage door, hit the opener, and was surprised as all get-up when it started moving with her still attached.
Carissa, she didn’t let go or jump off. No, she fastened her gorilla grip tighter than she ever had, and she road that sucker all the way up until she was hanging upside down, her bare little butt pointing out at the entire world.
And she started screaming for help.