Eighteen months is forever to a dragonfly. Ask that dead one on the deck that the cat hasn’t had the decency to eat. She eats everything else, that cat. Especially possum face, but that’s another story.
Eighteen months is a long time and no time at all.
My sister, Libby, died eighteen months ago. She was forty-two. She died at about eight o’clock at night, on her couch, of a heart attack. We think. Most of the time it doesn’t matter how she went, she’s gone and that’s the important bit, but mixed drug toxicity is doubtful. Still, I reckon she didn’t commit suicide because in her home, on her couch, with her partner making dinner, is a far cry from her down at the park beside Safeway. Her regular picnic table, razor blades, panic, Panadol with rum and coke to wash them down. Packets and packets of the stuff, she had.
Eighteen months and I’m still shocked.
I’d give anything, anything, for another two minutes. To hold her hand, hear a joke – fuck, she was funny – to hear her breathy hello one last time. But she’s gone and the days roll on by.
So, I’m living this life of two halves.
Forty-two years of being Libby’s elder sister and this new life without her. I’m living Since Time. Since the cops came to my house early one morning and I climbed the stairs to hear that my sister had died. I think I said how did she do it? Since I shouted no, no, no, and crumpled like they do in Hollywood.
The tears you cry this far down the road are different from the tears of the first day, or first month, and they’re different from the tears of the first year anniversary. There is less spring, they don’t leap out of your face and onto strangers like they used to. That’s good. And they don’t clag up your voice and wet your sleeve quite as much as they did before.
It’s not because the tears aren’t there.
There are a million things I’ve learnt in this the second half of my life, everybody has a dead someone, Madonna must be listened to with tissues, and Libby was many things to many people. She is remembered. And tear management, ya gotta do your tear management. I try not to put myself in situations where I might cry, or, I put myself in places where I’ll cry and be done with it.
So it’s a sad and knowing second half, this life, but it’s a great second half, too. I’ve learned it’s okay to cry, to miss my little sister like fucken, excruciating Hell. I’ve discovered there’s happiness in that missing. Smile and cry, smile and cry.
Loss hasn’t made me a better person. I still get things wrong, I forget to sign permission slips and if I had a dollar for every time I’ve said, shit, was that today?! I’d be able to hire myself a secretary and never say those words again. But loss has made me humble, has let me see. It’s a looking second half.
I Googled, and dragonflies don’t really live for only one day, their life cycle is about six months. That dead dragonfly on the deck, its wings like wire, its body a shining green fuselage, here for a day, six months, whatever, it was here. That’s the point. I’ve remembered it. Libby was here for forty-two years, they weren’t all splendid, but some of them were damn remarkable. Eighteen months into my second half, this new life, I’m remembering.
a blurry photo of Libby with some little blue chicks for accompaniment. i love you, Lib, and you look good in a hat