On Friday it was four years since the day I lost my little sister. I’ll admit I have trouble with a sentence like that one. Since my little sister’s passing? Passing into what, where? Since my little sister’s death? It’s too true and too harsh. I go with since I lost my little sister, like she slipped down the back of the couch, or slid along my dashboard and off out the window.
How you say it doesn’t matter.
She’s gone but we had her. That’s the important bit.
Darren, her partner, and I went to Platypus Rock on Friday. Though it was cold down by the river, it was dry, and we sat on our rock for an hour or so and talked about Libby. The river was the highest it had been in ages, and it swirled by fast, some ducks turned up but they didn’t stay. I leaned over the side of the Rock and could see traces of Libby three years after we spread her ashes. I closed my eyes and felt the sun on my face.
These days my grief comes with a smile more than a tear.
Darren is less smiley, more teary, but it is starker for him. He lives in the place they shared but four years on still doesn’t sleep in the bed they shared. And he was there that night. He thought she was sleeping, he thought he’d be able to go to the hospital with her.
‘I’m sorry, Darren,’ the female paramedic said, ‘Libby’s not going to the hospital, she’s going to the Coroner.’
They waited for the van, and then Darren watched as Libby was loaded into the back. There were three other dead people in the van. It’s no wonder Darren cries more than me. I didn’t know about the coroner’s van until this Friday, he told me as we walked from the Rock back to the car. It seems with every anniversary there is something knew for me to know. We stood on the gravel path and held each other, tears on each other’s shoulders, and I’ve been seeing the back of that van in my head for a couple of days now.
But mostly, grief is okay with me.
Lately I’ve been thinking of Libby as a little light I’m holding in my hand. I shield my light the way people do when they try to light a cigarette in the wind. She’s cupped in one of my hands and protected by the other. Her memory warms me. Sometimes, when nobody is around, I cup my hands in front of my face and blow into them, they way you gently blow on a tiny fire you’re trying to keep. I imagine that it’s night and the only light available is the one shining in my hands. A wondrous little flame, deep red at its base and yellow-white at the tip, shadows play around my fingers.
And I sing that old Seekers song, ‘This little light of mine’. I know they didn’t write it, others sang it before them, but my parents played The Seekers when I was a kid and that’s the version I look to.
But I change the lyric from it to her because I’m going to let her shine.
“I’m just so happy I loved her.”