October 13th. Four years since Elizabeth has been gone.
The other day I was wrapped up in a conversation with a woman who was telling me about her sister. Since I hadn’t spoken of having any siblings, she assumed I was an only child. As she talked about how lucky she was to have her sister, I stood there thinking how strange it is to be in these kinds of situations. It’s common now for people to assume I’m an only child and I hate it. I want people to know I have a sister. In fact, in some ways, I feel like it’s a disrespect to Elizabeth’s life to not bring her up. But then I feel stuck with having to answer the inevitable follow-up question of “oh I didn’t know you had a sister! Where is she now? Does she live in back in Canada?” Sometimes I’m just not in the mood to talk about it. Maybe the timing is wrong, or the mood is too light and cheerful for something dark like “oh she died!” Some days I just don’t feel like being vulnerable. But yet, I still want my sisters life to be acknowledged.
I feel quite similar when it comes to writing. There are times when I want to bare my heart to the world and write out my sufferings and deepest vulnerabilities on my blog for anyone in the world to read. But then I have days when I’ll cringe at what I’ve let other strangers know about me and my life and all I want to do is keep my writing private, only allowing those I know and trust to read it. Writing to me is therapy. I honestly feel as though I need to write in order to feel sane. Oddly enough though, when my writing is public, it gives me the ultimate feeling of release. But it also feels like I’m standing on a busy street naked, while everyone passing by is wearing a suit, walking to work on a Monday morning. Sort of like that Alanis Morissette music video for her song “Thank You.”
Right now, I’m in between both states of mind. I feel like I need to commemorate the day she died in some powerful and meaningful way. I just don’t know how.
How can you ‘celebrate’ the life of someone you wished were still alive? I just feel like calling her and saying, “Alright, so how do you want us to celebrate this? Mum and Dad are really upset, how can we cheer them up?” Then we could sit together somewhere and work out a way to make everyone happy again. Then we’d get Mum and Dad together and we’d all end up laughing and make it a big inside joke.
But obviously, that makes no sense and there’s no point in spending time thinking about that. Yet my mind continues to replay these “fantasies” over and over again. I have tried to google ideas on how to celebrate the death of a loved one but none of the suggestions resonate. A common one is lighting a candle in your loved ones honor. I bought a candle, but lighting it for her just feels empty, it does nothing for me. I feel like Elizabeth would just look down at me from Heaven and go, “really? A candle?”
I just really feel like sitting down and having a conversation with her. I just want to know what’s new? How are things wherever you are? I have so much to tell you. I live in a new place now, it’s amazing and its right by the water like I always wanted. There’s also a navy base right next door and whenever I see people dressed in their military uniforms I think of you. I remember when you were in the Army in Ottawa, and how you had to wear that green camouflage uniform with a beret and those big black boots. I think of those days when you started in the army and we’d see you marching down the street near our house. Mum and I would drive past honking and waving at you, you’d smile back proudly. I wish you could come visit me. We even have a spare room you could stay.
There’s so much happening and you aren’t here for it. I like to imagine you are following along with us and absorbing all this information about our lives in a different, weird, heaven kind-of-way. In a way that doesn’t involve “normal” communication. In some supernatural way that crosses through energy and time zones.
When thoughts of you come to mind I try to remind myself that we all die at some point, you just left us a little earlier than expected! That’s all… and the good thing is you won’t have to deal with growing older and experiencing arthritis and wearing a diaper and losing your mind to dementia. You’ll never have to deal with the pain of watching mum and dad get old. But then, you’ll also miss the good things. Like being here to see my new apartment. Or watching me get married one day. I was sort of hoping to you’d be around for these things…
I sometimes just can’t help but wonder how the absolute hell this happened to our family? It actually angers me.
Before Elizabeth, death was like a weird concept that affected other people but never me or my family. It’s just so weird to think that this whole “thing” could end anytime. That our time here is actually limited. Yet so many of us go through years of our life worrying and frustrating ourselves over trivial, meaningless things. Having someone you love die feels like suddenly getting yanked by the collar of your shirt and being dragged at breakneck speed up through the clouds and then gently being released into the atmosphere. When you finally get a moment to catch your breath you realize there is no sound, there is no gravity, and you are completely alone. You stay still, floating in space, looking down at your feet as they dangle above a tiny little Earth that continues to turn even without you in it. It’s a strangely numbing feeling.
We’re all just here for a brief moment in the grand scheme of it all. All of us alone, together, feeling our way through the dark, wondering if there is another step.
I don’t know what else to say, but I miss you Elizabeth. We miss you. I don’t know how to “celebrate” the day you died. I don’t know how to commemorate it. Life is different without you here.
I hear this song and I think of you, I always will.
“You’re in the arms of an angel, may you find some comfort there…”