For the past few years on this day, the anniversary of my sister’s death, I’ve been posting this quote from Rob Sheffield’s book “Love is a Mixtape”.
“on the 11th of every month my friend elizabeth would say, “well we made it through another month. so do we get her back now?” We always giggled, but we really did expect to get her back. its not human to let go of love, even when it’s dead. we expected one of these monthly anniversaries to be the Final Goodbye. we figured that we’d said all of our goodbyes, and given up all the tears we had to give. we’d passed the test and would get back what we’d lost. but instead, every anniversary hurt MORE, and every anniversary felt like she was further away from coming back. the idea that there wouldn’t be a final goodbye-that was a hard goodbye in itself and, at that point, still an impossible goodbye…. the loss just doesn’t go away-it gets bigger the longer you look at it.”
Ever since I first read that book I’ve felt like it accurately describes the way I feel on this day every year. But I feel like this is the first year I haven’t asked myself that question. This year it feels like my heart finally already knows the answer.
How many times can you lose someone? Sometimes you can poison yourself with memories. Or even just with thoughts of how you think the world would be if that person was still here. He says “the loss just gets bigger the longer you look at it” and it’s true. But it’s always felt live a disservice to her to not focus on it. It always feels like it’s up to me to remember her. Because if I don’t then she’s just lost in the world and maybe her presence meant nothing. And every year as I start to forget more things about her and more memories, I feel like I need to jump back into it and backtrack some more. Never really moving forward because forward somehow feels like forgetting her. And if you had known her, you’d know she’s just isn’t someone you want to forget.
So I think this year, I’m finally putting her to rest. Not the 18 year old version of her that I lost. But the older version I wish she was, the older version I think she deserved to be. She doesn’t physically exist in this world anymore and I can’t focus on how much better my life would be if she was still here. I can’t kill myself with memories of what I thought my future would be like. All I can do is remember her like she was.
So here’s my last really great memory…
I remember being 12 years old. I was hovering around her bedroom door. I just wanted to talk to her. She let me come inside and she was doing something, arranging something. She asked me how I was. I remember telling her about some problem I was having with my best friend. I can almost remember her exact advice. I remember her letting me touch the stuff in her room. I remember smelling her perfume. I remember her playing a Jimi Hendrix CD. I remember thinking to myself that maybe we were finally going to start getting along. That maybe we really would one day be those type of sisters that are super close.
That’s one memory of the future that I won’t let go of. Because in my mind Rita, I can see us. I can see us getting old. I can see us as best friends. I know it would have happened. We would have gotten there.