Dear Ted. How do I finalize who you were to me? I can’t. And I won’t.
My time with you isn’t over. It has just changed.
You are my brother, my leader, my mentor, my best, best friend.
We have countless shared experiences. Countless shared memories:
- Growing up in Peter Cooper Village and in Rockaway Beach;
- Going to buy Toeboy:
- All the neighborhood kids piled into the Volvo and drove to find you the perfect puppy for your birthday.
- We were set on getting a Westie. But one of the first puppies we saw at the breeder’s was this abnormally large, fluffy Maltese.
- He ran up to all of us. We were wearing our Teva and Reefs. And so the dog started licking everyone’s toes.
- He was the one! He was our new pal! He was your toe-boy and the two of you slept together every night.
- When our family moved from Peter Cooper Village to 33rd Street, Ted and I were no help. We were in the way and were sent to the movie theater around the corner.
- We saw Beavis and Butthead Do America. How a 7 and 11 year old got into the movie without a chaperone is beyond me.
- But we did get in and we laughed and enjoyed the air conditioning, and then returned home. Our new home was unpacked.
- We ate Flintstone-push-pops and we sang “Love Rollercoaster.”
That was my Teddy. He opened my life to new experiences. To laughter. To music. To spirituality. And to fun.
I am so lucky to have been—and still to be—Teddy’s little sister.
We understood each other on a molecular level. Ted honestly knew me better than I knew myself. Ted knew what to say to me in the good times and in the bad times. Ted was my guru, my spiritual advisor, my therapist.
Ted and I had plans for the future—both the near future and also the very-far-away future:
- We planned on white-water rafting, something he has done many times but always wanted to take me.
- We planned to skydive, to traveling around the world with each other with our backpacks and our friends.
- We planned for our traveling adventure to take some time. It would include
- running with the bulls in Pamplona;
- throwing tomatoes in La Tomatina in Buñol, Spain;
- attending the Holi Color Festival in India;
- snowboarding in the Swiss Alps;
- And lots more fun. Together.
We were, and still are, dreamers:
- We planned to turn our kitchen and backyard into a speakeasy/restaurant;
- We planned to turn the beach house into a bed and breakfast;
- And lots more things. Together.
Teddy’s favorite movie was/is “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” In it, Veruca Salt says “I want the world, I want the whole world.” Teddy did, too. And I wanted it with him.
Teddy introduced me to his friends. He always made me welcome and accepted. Most older brothers can’t be bothered with their little sisters. But Ted found the time to ease my anxieties and make me feel secure and safe.
- One night when I was seven or eight, my parents were out at dinner and I was trying to sleep.
- I was missing my mommy and I could hear a bunch of rowdy ‘tweens causing a ruckus in the backyard by the pool.
- I went downstairs and found Ted and his buddies jumping right over—not into—the pool, width-wise.
- I was shocked and scared and started crying. Teddy didn’t miss a beat and took me right up to my parent’s room, tucked me in, gave me a glass of milk, and sang me a song that he had just written.
- I don’t remember that song but I do remember that I was safe and that he was caring for me and protecting me.
- I fell asleep and woke up in my bed the next morning. My parents were in their bed.
- Nothing was different except I knew someone—Ted—“had my back.” And, over time, Ted realized that his sister “had his back.”
Some people probably couldn’t understand our relationship and thats fine:
- We fought like mortal enemies.
- We laughed together like long-lost friends.
- We watched over each other as if we were one another’s parents. We were two peas in a pod.
- Our jokes were crude, silly, obnoxious, and sometimes not even funny.
- But whether Ted was laughing with me, or he was laughing at me, I knew I was doing something right.
Ted was my toughest critic and my biggest fan. He was blunt and honest but also supportive and loving.
I could not be luckier than to have the honor of being Theodore Cirillo’s little sister.
I thought I would have forever with Ted. I won’t. But I am so very thankful for the years I had with him. Teddy was an amazing, great, larger-than-life spirit.
I never will stop telling the stories of Ted’s accomplishments, his hard times, his talents. And I will always tell everyone that Teddy means everything to me.
Ted always will live in my heart and in so in many people’s hearts.
He was truly a beautiful artist.