When our parents told us they were going to have another baby, Mim and I were immediately excited. We instantly KNEW it would be a girl and just as immediately started fighting over what her name would be. I imagined it should be "Samantha" because I wanted my new little sister to look like the "Samantha" American Girl doll.
|What I dreamed Cat|
would look like.
|Me (7) and Fat Baby Cat|
Our family went camping every summer at Chapman Dam State Park in PA. It was always a highlight. When Catherine was about 1 year old she was toddling around the fire pit in the early morning. She had a bucket and accidentally dropped it into the ash. When she reached for it she tumbled into the pit. When she dug her little baby arm into the ash to push herself up, she was burned by the hot firewood on the bottom. I'll never forget the site of her arm and the skin that flaked off from the heat. My parents panicked and rushed to the hospital. She was OK but it was a really scary time for our family and she still has a scar the length of her lower arm. I think it adds character and I believe some of her friends used to call it "The Scar", which I'm not sure she necessarily liked but I thought it was sort of cool.
Catherine has always been a free spirit. It's what I admire about her most. She likes what she likes. I probably teased her too much about it when she was younger. Even though it was hard sometimes for her growing up in a place where individuality is often considered too intimidating, she's held onto her unique perspective. This is what makes her the beautiful artist she is today.
Her favorite movie that she watched almost everyday was "Jack", commonly known as the "Nightmare Before Christmas". My mom thought it was a little strange that such a cute little blond girl loved such a goth movie, but she always let her watch it.
|Cat's childhood hero, Jack.|
Her favorite pastime was playing outside in the dirt. She would make "worm homes" (balls of mud with a dead worm shoved in the middle). She also liked to string her stuffed animals up in the apple tree with jump ropes. My dad always thought it looked a bit like the gallows. Oh, and she loved frogs and toads, which you'll remember are the bane of my existence.
I am 8 years ahead of Cat in school and I left home for college when she was just 10 years old. Leaving her was hard because she was my baby sister and I knew I wouldn't see the same small person again. Sometimes, I've been too over protective as an older sister, but she knows it's just because I love her so much. My grandpa Harold died the summer before my senior year of high school and his death struck me twice as hard because he and Catherine were best friends. I couldn't bare thinking about her life without him in it. These are the types of moments that shape us as people though, and I know that she needed to experience struggle just like me in order to become a full person.
|Cat (8) with her infamous|
She did, of course, grow up. I remember seeing her for the first time since Christmas when my fam came to bring me home for the summer after my Freshman year. The pretty little pre-teen she had become was almost unrecognizable from the cute mud lover she was before.
This phase of her life was full of boyfriends, girl drama, and multiple trips to the principle's office because of inappropriate school outfits. Our family always thought that was bullshit because she always looked great and NOT inappropriate. This is also when she started to write intensely.
She has filled up dozens of journals. I've never read any of them but I know she was writing poems and making drawings. She's been dedicated to her writing for most of her life. And she is great at it. Her poems are so heartbreaking and dark. It's a relatable outlook but not a comfortable one and that's what makes it so valuable. She started a blog last year and I just love reading her work and looking at the pictures she finds to correspond with the poems.
This is one my favorites:
Robbery of the Spotless Mind
I offered up my head
he took a look, he reached in
plucked out a flower,
set it in the glass beside his bed,
discovered its wilted petals,
and then named me friend,
but never spoke to me again.
She doesn't have a fear of emotional darkness and I think for a lot of people, myself included, it's hard to face that part of our lives in an honest way. I seem to always try to make everything better in my mind when sometimes, allowing ourselves to feel hurt is more beneficial. A lot of her sentiments are dead on when considering the female experience with love and heartbreak. Often we don't truthfully express our disappointment because we have been told we will look crazy and are to believe vulnerability is unappealing. Cat's art illustrates the beauty in raw, uninhibited feeling and makes an unapologetic case for truth.
|Cat and my parents at her high school graduation.|
|Cat with one of the new kittens, Jasper.|
Catherine has inspired me to keep working on my writing and to grow as a creative expressionist. I can't wait to see what she ends up doing with her talents. She has become such a beautiful compassionate woman and I'm so proud to have her as a sister.