The way things might have been

While making good use of my investment in a membership to the Art Institute of Chicago, I was inspired by this painting. I apologize for not giving proper credit to the artist as I did not make note of his name and cannot seem to find him online.* I will update as soon as I can. For now, I’m compelled to get this out.

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“I am soooooo glad you guys are here!”, she said, the threat of tears bubbling up. She had just finished her second round of chemo treatments and was finally feeling up to being in the company of people other than her mother.

“I brought vodka!”, her oldest sister screeched. This one drank more than a lot of others, less than some and had built up quite a tolerance. Most people would describe this sister as a lush rather than a drunk. Although, if these people were honest, they would have to admit to being unable to make out that line with the naked eye.

“Of course you did”, baby sis chimed in. “And I’ve got the cigars.” The youngest of the three was all about business, all of the time. More adept at closing deals than soothing nerves, this sister was the trio’s ‘type A’; helping to keep all of them financially sound and comfortable when storms like this one hit.

The three hugged and laughed. The older sis headed to the kitchen to mix dirty martinis for everyone. Tito’s vodka, medium dirty, shaken with three olives was the ONLY way to make a dirty martini. This was probably the only thing, in the whole of the universe, on which the three could agree.

With a twinge of regret, she knew there was no way she could actually consume an alcoholic beverage. But holding a martini glass in her hand, while giggling uncontrollably with her sisters, would be all she needed to feel human again. She loved these two women almost as much as she loved herself. She knew that they were the only people on the planet, other than her mother, who could be counted on when the proverbial shit hit.

Nestling in together on the sofa, they clinked glasses, “Cheers to my little sister! May you be ever young, ever beautiful, and have all the men you could ever want!” Big sis proclaimed in overly dramatic fashion. The women laughed like they had no cares; like they were free and alive. The world belongs to women such as these. They need only to leave pettiness behind, take hold of what they want, and spit out the rest. She now knew this to be true, deep in the core of her being, and hoped that she would remember after, when she was healthy again.

For today, for this moment, she let go the heaviness of cancer and kids and husbands and bills. She indulged in ridiculous fun-loving chatter and hilarity. Shrieking with delight and tearing with elation, the three sisters wasted the afternoon away.

Years later, the oldest would write about this day in her journal, sadness and regret tugging at her heart. The youngest would depress the memory, deep into the bowels of her subconscious, choosing to focus on more pressing and seemingly important affairs. And she would see them all, and the entirety of all their lives together, and smile, with only love …only love …only love.

*Stamford after Brunch, 2000 by American painter John Currin

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