On Monday we said goodbye to my sister. We scattered her ashes at a spot on the Yarra River at Warrandyte. The sun was high and bright and we didn’t need our coats. We cried and laughed and talked Libby stories, we played Madonna and sang. We took photos, we took photos of us taking photos. It was harder and more awful than I imagined and better and more wonderful than I imagined.
Monday was what we needed.
On Tuesday, the tears I cried the day before were nothing.
She’s gone, she’s in the river, she’s gone.
Wednesday I dropped my sons off at school and came home to a vacuum. I won’t go too far into it, but the self-talk was recurring and scary and reminded me of the one and only time I have been suicidal. It wasn’t so much what I was thinking it was more that I couldn’t stop thinking it.
I have my grief counselor on Wednesdays. Lucky.
I call her my ‘grief counselor’ because I am primarily turning up to work on my grief and because I don’t want to say ‘my therapist’. To say I’m seeing a therapist feels too Hollywood-in-the-nineties for me to be comfortable with it.
It was a timely appointment.
Depression is a tumbling down type of thing.
I’ve been tumbling down for months and on Wednesday morning I reckon I was a pile of bricks. Breakable? Nope. Broken.
A therapist can never start a session with anything easy. And mine doesn’t let me off the hook with her, ‘how are you?’
Fifty-five minutes is not that long a time. In fifty-five minutes I can ride to town, I can watch half a movie, I can bake a cake and just get it out of the oven.
Fifty-five minutes I had with my therapist. I didn’t want to say what I’d been thinking, but I’m not going to a therapist for nothing so we got into it. Sometimes the simple act of saying what you’re thinking about yourself to another person can show you how unreasonable you sound. By the time I left I had a plan. I’d cut myself some slack, I’d take the week off my writing deadline (again…), I’d set aside time to cry (not a thing I can do naturally but I will try) and I will go to Platypus Rock.
Platypus Rock, in a matter of days, has become a special place. I’d wanted to go on Tuesday but didn’t make it.
It was raining so I dug out my big brown coat, the warm wool one with deep pockets for my keys and phone, and found my old sneakers, it’d be okay if they got muddy.
I was worried all the rain may have washed Libby away.
The rocks were darker, wet and shiny, the ashes, white against the rock, were like highlighter round the edges. Libby was marvelously still there. She was splendidly there. I climbed down and stood on the rock and said all the things I couldn’t manage on Monday. I talked directly to her. I said sorry for all the swearing and sooked and swore again. I took photos. I waited for our platypus but he’s being coy. Still, somebody had paid her a visit. In the mud, in the ashes, were the unmistakable impressions of duck feet. I climbed back up to the grass and sat a while, told Libby a few more things, told her to look out for that platypus, I got up to leave, walked up to the path, and stood a while some more.
When someone is in your heart, you can talk to them anytime. Did you know that?
Depression doesn’t get fixed by fifty-five minutes of therapy. And it doesn’t get fixed by a happy-sad walk by the river. But Platypus Rock is our place and it will be healing. Libby’s there, she’s with her animals, she’s in our hearts and we have set her free.
i love you, libby