June, you’re almost here. One more sleep and you will be. You always liked the attention, didn’t you? Middle of the year, shortest day of the year, tax time, End of Financial Year and all that. I’m paying attention now, aren’t I?
I accept you, June.
I get that you’ll never slip by unnoticed, that though September, when she was born, should be bigger, June is when my little sister left. June the tenth, the Sunday night of the Queens’s Birthday long weekend. About eight p.m. She coughed her last breath and died. How shocking it must have for her partner, Darren, to understand she wasn’t merely sleeping.
This June, two years later, Libby’s jewellery, removed by the paramedics, still sits collected on the dining table. They’ve been picked up, held, looked at, but always put back where the paramedic left them.
It’s funny the souvenirs we keep. Souvenirs from a life, traces, something we can read, touch, remember. I have her last couple of texts. I still have her Doc Martens, scuffed to hell, bent and burgundy, they were a gift and she loved them. I’m supposed to be sharing them with my sister, Erin, but they are still here. Letters. I have cards and letters still in their ripped-open envelopes. Letters from a character Libby invented, someone you’d never want to meet, so funny and insightful, they are hilarious social commentary. I have a letter that we were meant to have after. A bittersweet suicide letter that she never had cause to send. Love and thank yous and calling people out on their shit. That was Libby.
The other day I was cleaning my car (it happens) and I found a packet of razor blades I took from Libby on one of her attempts. She was a sneaky bugger. I’d turned up to the park, found her sitting at a picnic table, blood, alcohol, packets of Panadol. I took the razor blade from her and walked over to a bin ten meters away and chucked it. When I got back to Libby she was blade deep into her wrist. She hadn’t given me all of them.
‘Okay,’ I said, ‘hand them over.’
Passive, she gave me the blade and the packet it came from. I slipped it into its case and tucked the case into my pocket. After seeing her into an ambulance I got to my car, put her bags in the boot, and dropped the razor blades into the compartment in my door and forgot about them.
I’ve found them twice since. I pick them up, look at them, stow them back in the door. I can’t throw them out and I can’t bring them inside. It was such a big day, that day, poor Libby at the park, and an ordinary day, she had her shopping, it was sunny, cool, not much wind and we’d been there before. Some bench, same method. I saved my tears for later when I had time.
I’ll let the razor blades go with the car. One day it won’t be mine. It’ll drive off with a new owner, or it’ll get junked for scrap, and the razor blades, safe in their packet, will be gone. They can go because they weren’t the best of her.
June has become a little like New Year’s Eve. I sum up and plan. I dwell and consider. I relish how much I loved her, knew her, and if I’m in the right place, imagining, I can almost feel my lips on her brow, soft and warm, skin on skin. Thankful.
I’m not afraid of you, June. Come. Bring your tenth. I’ll be here.
i love you, Lib. boots and all.