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Robert Perlman (Brother)

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I'm filled with anguish, anger and confusion as I try to make sense out of the incomprehensible. Tomorrow, it will be two weeks since Jennie passed away. Words fail to capture the grief and pain so I won't even try. I'll just tell you about my sister.

As with many siblings, our relationship got off to a bit of a rocky start.

Jennie's reign as the undisputed focus of all attention in my family was clearly a little too brief for her liking. After a mere 20 months of her uncontested supremacy, I appeared on the scene. My parents, like most parents, had faithfully documented every waking moment of Jennie's young life, with both photos and 8 mm home movies. She was the star of her own one-woman show and clearly reveled in her top billing.

Now, most people can tell tales of sibling rivalry, but few have incontrovertible proof on film.

When I was a few months old, my parents bundled us up and took us outside in order to shoot a little movie footage. Precocious as ever, two year old Jennie was performing and hamming it up for my father as he tried to film me sitting innocently and defenselessly on my mother's lap.

Jennie just couldn't let my father film me alone with my mom. Over and over again she jumps into the frame trying to ruin my cinematic debut. She comes running in smiling, hugging me in a deviously clever way to suggest joy with my presence. I am sure what came next was no accident. For the umpteenth time my dad cleared Jennie out and attempted to get me alone with my mom. Then Jennie comes charging in, delivering not a hug but a head butt. The screen goes black just as the unmistakable scream of pain begins to form on my face.

Our relationship went downhill from there. We fought and argued constantly throughout our childhood. We established a line down the middle of the back seat of the car, which when crossed, resulted in severe bodily harm to the offending party. The United Nations had to be called in resolve who's turn it was to wash the dishes.

But as we grew a little older we began to tolerate each other. I started to appreciate some of my sister's good qualities, especially her ability to bring home a succession of extremely cute friends. I learned that if I behaved a little I might be allowed to hang around with these beautiful girls for at least a few minutes.

As we became adults, a magical thing happened; we became friends. That doesn't always occur between siblings but Jennie and I developed a special connection. We shared in each other's triumphs and supported one another through hardships. When she graduated from college, we shared an apartment for two years didn't fight over dirty dishes even once!

When she went on to Graduate school and then later moved to San Francisco, we saw each other much less, but talked all the time on the phone. We had many amazing discussions and we both turned to each other for advice and solace when things weren't going well. Jennie had innate ability to truly listen, something that helped her greatly in her chosen profession as a clinical psychologist. When I really needed to talk, I could be assured of her undivided attention and support. She offered me insights that have been incredibly important to me over the years.

There is that special bond that all siblings share, Jennie knew me in a way no one else can. She was there through my entire childhood and experienced things that only the two of us know. We didn't need to explain anything to each other about our family. I am so grateful I had her to turn to in times of need and joyous times too. I am grateful I was there for her in her last week when she needed me most.

I hope over time, I'll come to make some sense out of this, but I know that I'll always love my sister and that she will live on in my heart.

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Page last updated: Monday, 05 March 2001 06:22:41 Eastern Time.