These dates, anniversaries, they don’t creep up on you. They freaking chase with a shovel. When the year anniversary of my sister’s death drew close I knew it: four months, three months, two months, one month, one week. I obsessed about the day. What would we do? How would we do it? And how much would we cry?
On Monday it will be Libby’s birthday. She would have been forty-four. This the second birthday we’ve had that she hasn’t been around to slip her a card with some cash, take her out for a coffee, call her up and sing down the phone. On my birthday she’d ring me up and sing Happy Birthday, breathless and showy, Marilyn Monroe style.
God, I miss her.
An anniversary like this impending, what do you do?
I’m a grief learner. I’ve only been at it for a year and two months and three days. I’ve learned tonnes but there is still so much to go. I had no idea birthdays would be such a Big Deal.
I’ve learned I should cry when my body tells me to, but I don’t do it. I’ve been advised to set aside time to cry, find a safe space, timetable in some crying. That sounds counter-intuitive, because, really, don’t emotions have a thing all of their own? It works. I know because I’ve done it twice. Yep, I see it works but I don’t practice it, I have a lifelong pattern of that style of behaviour – seeing, believing and not doing it, anyway. Did you ever notice how if something works you kind of have to commit yourself to it? Not me, I’ve got a thousand ways to say maybe.
What am I doing for Libby’s birthday?
I’ll be at work for a couple of hours in the morning so I’ll be making coffees for the regulars. Those idiots will take my mind off it (ummm…sorry?).
I’ll play Madonna. I’ll wear the black hoodie I saved from the eleven bags of clothing that went to charity.
And I’ll go to Platypus Rock. For her birthday I planned to dance to Madonna’s Holiday, I was going to teach myself off YouTube, but I’ve spent a little too long in bed to have that dance down by Monday. Still, she’d love it, me on the grassy bank trying to dance cool like Madonna, people walking past wondering what the hell that silly women is doing. Libby always thought I was a bit of a dope.
I was at the Rock today. The morning was mild (eleven degrees but if felt like fourteen) and I talked to my other sister, Erin, on the phone; it was hard to hear her over the birds, cockatoos, galahs and kookaburras. The water level had dropped, and I was able to see where Libby’s ashes were at. It’s only been two months and she’s almost gone.
I’m supposed to be philosophical about this, ashes to ashes and all that. I try to be.
Traffic above, ducks, the river flowing and Libby being absorbed, it’s meant.
I’ve romanticised the little track down to the rock that me and Darren and Libby’s other guests have eroded, that track is more there, deeper, wider, than it ever was. On Monday, me and Madonna will give the erosion a Holiday boost. As Libby leaves, is washed away, the earth is remembering her by our footsteps.