I’ve been thinking.
It’s funny the memories that stick.
No matter how hard I try to focus on one single moving, sentimental, emotionally wrenching moment that my sisters, mum, and I have shared, the first thing that always pops into my mind is this: a snap shot of us sitting on our the living room floor, parked in front of the roaring gas fireplace, Christmas day eve.
My little sister is eating a bowl of bran buds cereal.
She sits cross-legged on a lavender and brown floor rug, her roomy sweatpants covered in cat hair. What is left of her Christmas day finery is swamped by a large, black hoody and the thick, knit scarf she received in her stocking earlier that morning is looped loosely around her shoulders and neck.
A Christmas cracker crown sits on top of her head, lopsided, sagging slightly to the right side, like the droopy smile of a dreaming child. Her back rests up against the steamer truck my mother uses as a coffee table and she is laughing so hard, tears repeatedly spring to the corner of her eyes; one after the other the come, each taking the place of the others that are now streaming down her cheeks and dropping to the floor.
Her face flushes deep scarlet and as the trill of her giggles descends in pitch from high heehees to low hohos, I catch an eyeful of all the freshly masticated bran that sits dead square inside of her mouth.
My mother, my older sister and I are all laughing as well. Jessi has been complaining for a couple of days that she hasn’t had a good “go” in almost a week, and is worried about the lack of fibre in her daily diet. After a solid twenty-four hours of hearing about our sibling’s lack of progress in this sensitive, intestinal department, we’ve decided that the digestion of one big bowl of roughage should not only help her out, but should also be a family affair.
At first reticent to the idea, as clearly emphasized by her emphatic “don’t-look-at-me!” pleas, Jessi eventually wholeheartedly embraces this experience, and even acts the color commentator to her progress, using her spoon as microphone.
(All of this happens in-between her bursts of gut-busting laugher.)
As Jessi slowly makes her way through her late evening snack, she pauses a moment, dries her eyes, and lets us know, unequivocal in her sincerity, that she really hopes that this endeavour will work in her favour.
We let her know that we too, are rooting for her.
And she’s set off again, laughing so hard we have to give her a swift whack on the back. Little flecks of bran that originally flew down the wrong tube are quickly assigned a new trajectory, and their landing pad sits clear across the living room. A bedazzled reindeer get the worst of these food fireworks.
Our cat Simon, skittish on a good day, beetles quickly under the nearest sofa, spooked by Jessi’s demonic half-cough, half-cackle. His increasingly whacko behaviour has me more than certain he is only half-cat.
After a few sips of water and a more tempered back rub, Jessi picks up her spoon and takes another bite of her now soggy, limp buds.
“That was a little scary, she says. She pauses before continuing. “I would never want to die constipated, full of bran.”
Oh how we roar, alongside the flickering flames of the festively-decked fireplace, on that Christmas day in the evening.