Everybody has a favourite pair of shoes, they prefer a particular pair for its fit, its look, the detail on the heel. I’ll fall in love with a pair of shoes, work out how to afford them, and often by the time I’ve figured it out they’ve been reduced because we’re six weeks into the season. It’s good.
And then I make my impression on them. The left heal will erode a little more on the outside, the zip will loosen, the leather soften, they will scuff from an almost trip. They’re mine now.
People are like that. They we fit into each other. How we adapt to how a person does things, accommodate a little bit of lateness because the company will be so good, go see that movie because you can catch one you’d prefer another time.
But people are not like shoes. Shoes are shoes, you love them but they don’t love you back. Not even if you name them and keep them in their original box.
When my little sister died I got the occasional whiff of, at least you have another sister. Like I have other shoes. Grab another pair, and get going. I’m sure that wasn’t the intent but it is how it felt.
The thing is, I do have another sister. And in all my grief and missing Libby I sometimes have to remind myself that there is another sister back there and she is suffering also.
I wear my heart all over my sleeve. If there is something wrong with me it will be visible. I analyse the shit out of things and can bring myself into most situations, yes, but what does it mean to me? It’s not pretty.
But I’m also good for a laugh and can lift something heavy.
If I wear my heart on my sleeve, my little sister, Erin, wears hers in the depths of her beautiful armour. She’s strong, a pragmatist, she’s a survivor. I’m amazed by her and tell her so. She’s seven years younger than me and if I’m ever doubtful I ring her up. We talk daily.
She’s not me, she’s too smart for that, but my little sister needs help, too. Especially since the death of our sister. I found out she has the occasional night of drinking all by herself on the couch. There’s no shame in that, if I drank, that’s what I’d do.
How do you support someone who rarely asks for it?
I can help her move.
And I can look after her kids.
And I can hand her a tissue if I’m ever there when she needs one.
We are survivors she, my brother and me. We are a skateboard with three wheels, a STOP sign with the P missing, the Beatles with no Ringo. We are left.
My brother and I go mountain biking. He has become my riding partner and this is a good thing since my other riding buddy lives two thousand kilometres away. I would never have gone off-road with my brother if this hadn’t have happened, I wouldn’t have thought of it. We sometimes talk about Libby, or our ‘stuff’, but mostly we ride our bikes.
And Erin and me, we are a pair of shoes.
We were before June the tenth last year when we lost our sister and we will always be. We compliment each other and have worn each other in just right. I’m the impulsive, ideas one and she’s the smart and together one. Sometimes we reverse our roles.
I’ve got Velcro so I can get out quick, Erin has heels, eyelets, laces, and she’s all class. We don’t look much like each other but people can tell we’re sisters.
If she needs something moved, I’m there. If she wants her car washed, I’m there. If she wants me to hold her and give her anything like the hours she’s done holding me, I’m there.
Thank you, Erin. I love you, Erin. You are my best shoe.
a grainy photo of my beautiful sister