A while ago I suggested Darren, my sister’s widow, was nowhere much on his grief highway, that he was stuck in some nowhere place, and I called it a Blue Hotel. To get the keys to a hotel room at the Blue Hotel you don’t need much, quicksand, stasis, no change. Well, it’s Christmas time, our third without Libby, and I seem to have booked the room adjoining Darren’s.
I thought I was doing okay on this grief journey.
Thought I was further down the highway than Darren.
Why did I use a linear analogy like a highway when I know grief isn’t like that? There are no straight lines in this thing. I’d forgotten it’s a washing machine.
So I’m in my hotel room and Darren’s in his and lately we’ve been so miserable and missing Libby we haven’t talked to each other, because neither of us wants to make anyone cry.
I don’t know what’s happened to acceptance. I say things like, I’ve accepted it, my little sister is gone but I can’t believe it. That’s no acceptance.
How does someone walk the earth one day and disappear the next?
I have her letters.
I have memories.
I have Madonna.
But where the hell did she go?
My knees are stuffed and I can’t ride my bike. My shoulder is stuffed and I can’t swim. My car is fine and the shops are close. I eat plenty of chocolate and live in a chip packet.
The Black Dog loves a midnight snack in a Blue Hotel.
And why do seem to have forgotten all the good stuff I’ve learned on this grief journey? I was learning and applying and learning. If it had to be, at least I could make myself richer in some way. The Black Dog, the Blue Hotel, washing machines. Highways. I’m talking in metaphor because touching the real thing is too grim at the moment.
She won’t be back, I’ll never hear her voice again, she’s almost gone from Platypus Rock, and she won’t be here on Christmas Day to sneak off round the corner to have a smoke with our other sister, Erin.
Last Christmas was great. The day was peaceful, except for the overwrought ex, and the exhausted dishwasher. The food was good, the children had fun, and it was all over by five p.m.
This Christmas I am digging deep to do it for the kids. There’ll be cake, and lollies, and presents, and after lunch I’m going invent a shrink ray so we can lock ourselves in the gingerbread house and eat our way out of it.
We’ll talk about Libby. I’ll accept she isn’t here. I will.
But I can’t accept that my learning has gone.
Where is the joy I had?
What’s happened to my thankfulness?
Why don’t my jeans fit?
never met a black dog he couldn’t lick