Today is a surreal day for me. Today marks the 25th anniversary since my big sister passed away at the tender age of 20 on January 13, 1992. I was 13 when she left us. It was a horrific shock to lose her and our family has never really been the same since that awful day. Her absence has left a gaping hole in the hearts of all who loved her. After the many years, I have had to contemplate this, I have come to the conclusion that it is because she was such a beautiful soul and no one expected her light to go out so soon.
Crystal was my big sister. She was 7 years my senior. She was my keeper. I followed in her footsteps for the 13 years she was on this earth with me. Of course, I idolized her… she was beautiful, hard-working (a trait she took from both my parents) and graceful. She was a calming force in my life, patient, giving, kind and loving. She was a small-town beauty with a bright future ahead of her. She won the Central Maine Egg Festival Egg Queen title in 1988 in costume as Charlie Chaplin. I will never forget her beautiful blue ball gown in the parade that year and the beautiful smile on her face. I am proud to say we share the same smile… our mama gave it to us. Crystal and I both had our photographs in the newspaper that week: Crystal in her beautiful gown wearing her crown and me kissing my massive frog because we won the frog-jumping contest at the festival. There could not be a more appropriate analogy of how different my sister and I were. But I could not have loved her any more than I did.
Crystal loved the arts. She was in theatre, she was an accomplished dancer, she loved to cook and dreamt of traveling the world. Crystal was brilliant in many ways. She graduated from Maine Central Institute in 1989 as class Salutatorian and was attending Cornell University to become an engineer.
I have tried to honor her legacy in the 25 years since, by trying to be my best. I want her to be proud of me, of the life I have built, the daughter I am to our parents, the mother I have become, and what we have done in tribute to her at French’s Point. I know she can see this. I can see beautiful bits of the love my sister and I shared between my own two little girls (with an age gap of 6 years between them). My oldest daughter’s personality is very similar to my sister’s personality with her quiet demeanor, kind heart, and mother-hen nature. The beauty of it takes my breath away some times. It’s a magical reminder of just how close Crystal really is, even though I cannot see her. I know she is here. I still feel her after all these years.
In large part, our family took on the endeavor to be the stewards of French’s Point because she loved this place so much. So many of our memories of her are rooted here. Together we grew up as children, running through the fields at French’s Point, picking blueberries, having adventures, and giving life to dreams. Crystal went to summer camp with our cousins at French’s Point (then the Hersey Retreat) when it was owned by the church. From her time spent here, came big dreams of someday getting married at French’s Point. She shared this vision with me sitting on the deck one day and I remember it like it was yesterday. The way she described her dream, I could envision it myself in beautiful detail.
Over the past 15 years, my loving parents have made a tiny piece of the 100+ acre Sandy Point State Park, right next to French’s Point, into the most beautiful memorial overlook in honor of Crystal. The State dubbed it “Crystal-Lynn Cove” in Sandy Point State Park. There is a beautiful bench to take in a clear view of sunsets that have unparalleled beauty. We played hide-and-seek in these woods and along the shore that is now a preserve in tribute to her. I slip away to this place often to be closer to her. Working and living here at French’s Point allows me to be closer to her and the memories we made and the dreams we began together.
Today we honor Crystals’s life, and we will do so each day we live out her dreams here at French’s Point.
Photos below by Spring Smith Photography.