She looks at me from her frame, an antique art-deco frame, her head slightly tilted, her blonde hair tossed by the wind. At home, I can see her from my bed, and at work, from my desk. She is my hero and my reminder that life is too short and must be lived fully. She would have been 39 this year, on Halloween.
I miss her so much I ache with it, and tears make typing difficult. 9 months since Tammy died. I feel like some part of me is missing, something important, something I've got to find, to remember, to bring with me, to... something. I've been parturient with grief and now I feel it rising in me, seeking exit from my body. I've never given birth. I wonder, is it like this?
I feel sometimes like I've got to live the rest of my life and hers. She was fearful and fearless. She had huge courage and she accomplished great things and I feel I can do no less in honour of her memory. I think of her and smile. I remember her smile, that little girl's shy smile, and her way of laughing that made people feel included. I remember that day at Cannon Beach, the day I snapped that photo. I can close my eyes and smell the air. I can hear the birds, feel the chill in the wind and the sand in my shoes. I remember how thin she was, how little she ate, how easily she tired. And I remember how she had such enthusiasm. She was on fire. She wanted to live and go and do. But she never really learned how to 'be', my sister.
I remember her as a child, napping in the hammock under a pine tree my grandparents planted the year my mother was born. I can smell the scent that the redwood forest has, the scent that permeated my childhood summers. I remember the wind rocking the child in that hammock, and the way her hair stuck out in all directions and her mouth fell open just a bit as she slept. I remember the way her skin smelled of Ivory soap, and how her hair smelled of Breck creme rinse, and how her hands were always dirty. Tammy was never afraid to get her hands dirty.
And I miss her so much I ache with it. I raised her. She was my baby as much as she was my sister. And now she is gone, and that is ok. It has to be ok, right? I mean, we are all born to die, and she always said she'd never live to see 50 and she was right. She had a better sense of her own mortality than most. I got a taste of it in May and I get it now, get that Life is short, but more than that, get that My Life is short and it is meant to be lived fully and honoured fully.
And so I grieve, here on my bed, sitting cross-legged, looking into the photo, into the window of the past, honouring my feelings.... and being... being sad. And that is good. Tears wash away the strain of holding in the grief and that is good, too.
It's all good. Even missing those who have moved on to whatever comes next. Sometimes I forget to remember that. Miss ya Sis.