Eighteen years ago, my older sister Christy was wildly independent. The young man in her life was attached to her hip and like a brother to me. They were planning to marry after Christy graduated from high school in our Long Island town.

At the time, Christy and I were complete opposites. An edgy 17-year-old, she spoke her mind even if it rubbed others the wrong way. She had a penchant for tight jeans and teased hair, and my parents were always trying to rein her in.

I, on the other hand, worked hard in school and was a real people-pleaser. I was a 13-year-old in braces and clothes that were far from body-hugging. I played George Michael, while Christy blasted AC/DC.

My big sister loved to tease me about being a goody-goody. I thought she was, at best, insensitive and that her in-your-face attitude caused her more trouble than it was worth.

Then, just before Christy's graduation, on a day that seemed like any other, my mother told me Christy had been killed. Later, her boyfriend would be tried and convicted of manslaughter.

As I sit in my suburban home with almost two decades of hindsight, I realize I got my sister wrong. I should have admired her more. Sometimes when you try too hard to please others, it's at your own expense. Now I think of Christy and try to be true to myself.

Heidi Irwin, Crofton

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