"Why can't I have an imaginary friend? Sis has one!!! I want one too!!!!!" Stomping feet, hollelring like a banshee, being a little brat. You can just imagine how thrilled my Mom was to have me whining that question every other minute... like not at all. Baby Sister had an imaginary friend named Deena. As I remember Sis describing her, Deena was skinny, had brown hair, pigtails, blue eyes and a gap in her front teeth. She was just a bit older than Sis and liked to play with her and keep her company. Only thing is, none of us, including me, could see her. It wasn't fair that she, the mere baby of the outfit, got to have something I didn't have. You can just imagine how much consternation it gave my Mom to have me whining about wanting an imaginary friend of my own when a) she didn't believe in them, and 2) if they did exist, she didn't want to know about it. I wanted someone like Deena for myself. Someone who made me laugh, and who took me as I was, not as I was told to be.
Sis had a great time with Deena. They'd play for hours in the sandbox out back. Tea parties and dress-up games forever and ever. They'd take one of Mom's old purses, old hats and high heels and parade up and down the backyard walk like they were fancy ladies going shopping. And Deena always made Sis laugh. That was so important back then. Knowing how to laugh. Laughter after Lis died was almost a thing of the past. Deena made Sis laugh. Sis laughing made Brother and I laugh. That was a good thing. Why wouldn't I want a Deena of my own?
Deena lived with us for quite a while. Even after Sis started school Deena was with us. Sis was always warning people not to be mean to Deena by sitting on her or by walking through her. She would get absolutely livid if anyone made fun of her for talking to Deena, or, for that matter, having a friend no one else could see. I think my Sis grew up a more solidly grounded person because of Deena. Really. Nothing my folks could do or say would dissuade her from her certainty that she and Deena were friends. NOTHING! Looking back, I could almost envy her for that certainty. But, I don't. We each wrote our own path, and mine, for whatever reason did not include knowing for a certainty at a young age that I could stand up for myself and get away with it like Sis did. Of course, she was the baby, and she was born just before Lis died, so, many of the things she wanted and did were indulged. She was a "special baby". If she said Deena was there, the folks indulged that "fantasy" and let it go at that. Deena gradually faded away and moved on to other places where imaginary friends are needed more than she was at our house. When Sis stopped talking about Deena, well, for those of us who were jealous because we didn't have imaginary friends, it was almost a relief. But, looking back, there was something so very special about Sis and Deena's relationship that made Sis who she is today. Strong, resilient, tough but loving. She might not have had that had Deena not been around for her.
By the time Deena faded from the family existence, Mom had taken the stance that that was a bullet dodged and that her kids were "normal" and were going to act like it no matter what. No matter what. I longed to have Deena come back into my Sis's life. All of us would have laughed again. And felt like we were supposed to feel. Instead, we learned to behave like "normal" children and not talk about the things we heard, saw, smelled and so on.
Sometimes now, as an adult, I think about all the kids in the world with their own little Deena's and hope and pray that they are encouraged to have their imaginary friends help them cope with the world around them rather than being told to "knock it off - there's no one there." Pardon me. I had to stop and chuckle at myself. As I am sitting here typing this blog, I can feel my own "imaginary friends" - Singrha, Helene, Toshiyoki, Dr Ulee and all the others who help me with my work and my life - crowding 'round to read what I am typing as I am typing it. They are as real as are you and I. They have existed before. They exist now. They will exist again. That I know for a certainty. They help me understand my gifts. They help me use them. And, best of all, they make me laugh. That's what "imaginary friends" are for. I'm glad I have so many of them now.