In the new year I made a resolution to post here more, but obviously that has fallen by the wayside in the last few months. Truthfully, it has been neither from neglect nor laziness. Which is probably a first. Instead, there has been a rock in front of me, a Boyg stretching as far around as I can't see. On May 16th, my sister Jessie died.
A brief interlude: sister might be a strong word. People like Donell will know that in the strictest sense, I only have one. But Jessie used to joke that she was my sister and my parents loved her best, so that became a bit part of our dynamic and how I remember her. In time I spent enough time around her family that we settled into the kind of soft familiarity that only families and old friends have.
I am grateful that I remember these parts most, as opposed to the rest. Hospital visits, surgeries, a cabinet of medication. Those are all there, but... not. It was in her hospital room that I first watched Bruce Almighty as I leaned in on the bed. It was because of her surgery that we really became brother and sister. I carried her medicine cabinet when I helped her move into her own apartment, which had once seemed so hazy and distant. It's all about perspective, I guess. Either that, or just easier to laugh than to cry.
She was adorable and she knew it. No matter what she said, no matter how much she dodged work at the IGA I met her at, she was still perfect. She hid out in the manager's office spying on coworkers when she should have been already done organizing uniforms. She made the stockboys give her rides on carts. Actually, she never made us, she just kind of suggested it. Moreso than any of us, she got bored, and when she was bored she made things. Somewhere I've still got the paper bracelet and one of the drawings of coworkers she made me, though I've long since lost the plastic bag hat. The building is full of memories of her.
So is my own bedroom. I've still got a book she lent me that I never finished, now I'm afraid to. The bracelet and picture are nearby, I don't have to look too hard. Every day I pass the picture CD, funeral program and list of things she always wanted to do that I got at her funeral. After that, I take a stack of papers off my chair and somewhere in the middle is the section of the newspaper that has an article on her passing. The local media loved her, but they were just some of the people standing in line.
In the last year, we didn't manage to see eachother. She worked two jobs and I had mine. We would trade text messages in the middle of the night, apologizing to eachother for not being able to make time. It's an old story by now, but that's not how the endings go. There's a plane and a speech and the other person stays. Cue credits. How the fuck can I beat pneumonia? At her funeral the priest gave us the talk, the one where it's part of His plan and we should take solace in that. Really? Really? It's supposed to make me feel better that the best person I knew is gone and the upstairs neighbor planned it? That's not my God, man. He's crying too.
A few weeks after she passed I saw Away From Her, a movie filled with the same kind of gauzy memories and gnawing sadness that are still here. Gordon Pinsent watches his wife fade away into dementia and all he can do is try to hold on. I still think of her in the present tense, you know. I see something in a store or hear a song on the radio, think about how much she'd like it and store it away for a birthday. There's the Boyg again, and I can't seem to find my way around. There's a long way and a short way, but the way through requires the kind of admission and humility I can't muster yet. So here I am, feeling around in the black.