the 294 reasons to smile post was scheduled … it is what it is. appropriate really .. for today … not really.
in my world … today … is the stark realisation that my sister is dead. has died. died. the night of the 18th october. that she leaves behind her girls, her moko.
theres no reason to smile. or so i thought.
the reason to smile … came from a strange place indeed.
you see, she is my sister … my blood. my fathers daughter. younger than me.
i have spent time with her not more than half a dozen times in our life time. i met her when i was 7. had a few holidays with her and her family … my fathers family.
their lives were not anything i had experienced that intensely, up until that time. my father .. to my disappointment and disbelief .. was a violent rogue drunk .. who intimidated, belittled and controlled his little family.
and my sister.
my sister tried to manage their temperature; their moods; lessen the violence; pacify the situations before they escalated. she, even at 5, was compliant, docile .. she tried to please and pacify and console her mother.
she was equipped to deal with the nastiness and bitterness that would ooze from my fathers drunken pores.
the violence i had encountered previous to this man; my father … was violence borne out of pain, from a man i knew the heart of; whom i loved. and while he frightened me sometimes; i knew he loved me. a passionate man. but not viewed as such by his wife at the time.
my ‘good’ uncles violence was different from the bitterness turned nastiness that my drunken father poured out on his family. my sister. his was alcohol fuelled deep seated rage.
and i didn’t know or understand his pain…
my sister endured him.
she endured her mothers weakness.
and when she could, she left.
still compliant and ever willing to please.
and when i met her again – saw her again, 20 odd years later, she had babies .. .2 beautiful babies. and she was softly spoken. pleasant. … on the surface.
i talked to her on the phone a few times. and then nothing. from either of us.
we could not be close. not like little girls, way back then. hiding from, running from … pretending to be something different.
my father liked to disappear, and he disappeared with my sister and her mother a couple of years after we met. no forwarding address. no reasons. just gone.
we didn’t grow up together. we could never be close.
and when we could .. as adults .. we couldn’t.
i didn’t realise until yesterday though .. . that she had her own inner turmoil … that was finding its way out … finally … she was moving out of compliance and docility. that our sisterhood was never meant to be more than it was … in passing. there wasn’t enough of her to go around. there wasn’t enough of me to go around.
but what mothers we have made!
her daughters are compassionate, loving, strong willed, strong minded, dripping in humanity. and she, my sister, facilitated that for her girls .. just as i did for mine. for her, it cost her her life in the end; as her heart gave way. for me, it cost me my existence … as my life gave way.
and now we can wave to each other from different shore lines. nodding at each others strengths. acknowledging who we are.
instead of wishing we were something more, something different …
and as i cried yesterday, wondering why; knowing it was sad – logically -but not understanding that there was a connection with her even though there wasn’t a connection with her … as i cried, wondering what these awful feelings, emotions, were about .. but knowing not to calculate to hard .. i realised …
i could feel.
in a situation like this, i could feel. and it sucked. but i was ok. i knew it would pass. that i would forever be different; changed .. but it’d be ok.
that i am made out of some amazingly resilient shit. but that i could also have emotion, feeling … and would survive.
as i was wavering in the morning; tears coming for no apparent reason i thought … my mama came … my daughter and son-in-law and mokos came … my partner patted my hand; placed his head on my forehead … no words … and my other daughter and moko came … my brother rang to talk …
and they sat with me … not speaking .. . but just being themselves …
they let me be me.
all day, and all night.
they cooked and made cups of tea … still yelling at the kids and swearing at each other …
they didn’t walk on egg shells … fake sincerity …
they were themselves, and let me be me.
they still laughed and shed their own tears as we learned that my sister; their aunty, wouldnt be coming back to this country to be laid to rest – that she would stay where her babies are. we cried because while the others wouldn’t say it … they disapproved … but this is where we knew she should be.
they listened to me talk, shed a tear with me but not for me … hearing my hurt … that no-one had remembered i was her sister, and she, my only sister. no-one. not one.
they didn’t agree with my hurt; pacify my hurt; console my hurt. they just let me be me.
and when the day has been done … been gone .. .i am still here …
and i am eternally grateful for my little family … borne of grit … who know me and love me.
and i am eternally grateful that i have known a sister; have a sister; that she has peace; that she passed her love and determination for something better, on to her babies.
and i wave to my beloved sister from my shoreline … to her on her shoreline. i tilt my head to her in acknowledgment of all that she endured silently … all that she accomplished silently.
i wave to my beloved sister.
know i love you .. in my own way .. in my own time ..
blood of my blood … flesh of my flesh … bone of my bone
good bye for now