Surely, my sister’s brilliant epitaph had something to do with those tombstones:
“Here lies Krystyna, number seven out of eight, died running down to dinner so she wouldn’t be late.”
I was in seventh grade and I was (and still am) awed by my sister and her natural brilliance, her pacing, her wit. How could I ever equal that?
My anxiety soared. Whatever challenges Krystyna faced, I would surely have to deal with during the following year. This was one I wanted to do well at. I thought about it, “eighth out of eight”? Not so great.
With stress came the inevitable skin problems.
Krystyna and I had a saying regarding acne, “Better red than white, at least it shows you care.”
We were pleased with our saying until our father saw the red splotches on my face.
“Did you pick those pimples?”
“No, no! Don’t you know you could die of blood poisoning? Do you know how close the blood vessels are to the brain? Here. Look at this diagram…” and my father took down one of his books with medical illustrations and opened it up to the vascular system.
I wasn’t listening. I had my epitaph: “She picked.”