Hello from the other side…

phone

I don’t actually like that song (don’t hate me!) but the phrase seemed appropriate.

Because my sister called me last night.

Okay, yeah, so I was dreaming…but nonetheless, she called.  I was learning how to snowboard in a very bizarre wintry world, when my phone rang.  I recognized her voice instantly and some more conscious part of me knew that this wasn’t supposed to be happening, that I had to keep her on the phone for as long as possible.

But we chatted – a real, legit, sisterly chat.  I don’t remember about what and it wasn’t for very long, but she sounded happy – her voice sounded healthy.

Her voice.  I’m not sure that there are strong enough words to express how much of a gift it was to hear her voice.  To have my subconscious drag up some memory of it so that I could listen to her for even the briefest moment…  There are pictures of her everywhere – on my computer, around my house, on the internet…I can see her whenever I want, but I can’t hear her.  Not in the same way.  I have one voicemail that I never deleted (thank goodness!) but really that’s it…

It’s sad to realize that you never stop losing someone.  You lose the person in whatever way it happens but, over time, you continue to lose them.  All the tiny details, the minutiae that made them whole, made them who they were, you can’t hold onto all of it as desperately as you try.  So, it feels like they are truly slipping away…

Until, suddenly, you remember.  You remember something and you realize it’s still there. Maybe you laugh.  More likely you cry.  But you haven’t lost them, not completely. And if your brain is being especially nice, you may even get to talk to them on the phone.

The Difference

White Sands Slope

 

These past couple of days, I’ve missed him.  Like an ache.  Even the word “yearn” comes to mind.  I’m a little sick and passed out for a few hours and there he was – in my dream. We were broken up but alone in a house and there was a moment when we were close and I just felt such relief, such comfort in that moment.  And that was it, dream over.

I’ve had a good summer.  I’m in a happier place and yet, the sadness has returned. Unfortunately, any sad feeling, especially one related to missing, seems to be directly linked to the sadness surrounding the loss of my sister.  So, once I miss him, I inevitably miss her.  It’s missing by association to the feeling of missing generally.  I slide downwards and then, there I am missing the both of them and wondering – what’s the difference?  Why when I miss him do I eventually miss her?  Why can’t my mind/my body realize that these are distinct situations?  He’s alive.  She is not.  He’s off somewhere doing something and as far as my belief system goes, she is not.

But they’re both untouchable, intangible, unavailable to me.  That’s hard.  Hard to accept, hard to wrap my mind around.  And both situations are full of looking back at the woulda shoulda couldas.  With him, I try to think – well, I can say I’ve learned about love – about the good and bad of both sides – of me and him – of the interaction.  I’ve learned and so the next time I love, maybe I can do better.  With her, there’s no next time.  No one’s going to enter my life as my new sister.  No one could.

But no one can replace him, either.  It’s not like the next guy is going to wash him away. I wouldn’t want that.  He helped form who I am today and I wouldn’t want to give those things up, those pieces of me.

It’s just the losing…the losing of someone who was so important, someone who influenced who you are. One day they were both here and then they weren’t.

There is a difference.  One is incomprehensibly worse than the other.  But the feeling of loss is on a spectrum and he sits along there just like she does.  And the loss of the two swirls together so that it’s hard to tell who is causing what.

 

Namaste

namasteI’m okay.

About four weeks ago, I realized that…or at least that I was on my way to that.  To a state of okay-ness.

I’ve continued to go to yoga (borderline obsessed with it) and to the gym regularly.  I was on a soccer team.  I found a bar that I like going to and feel comfortable at alone.  I’m finding ways to accomplish work goals and I’m slowly creating a game plan for my future. It may end up being the case that when I leave this city, I actually miss it…

This city has been a rough, bumpy time for me.  Moving here less than a year after my sister died, dealing with the deaths of other family members, getting broken up with…  And during all that, realizing that my job is not what I was hoping it would be…  I don’t think there’s any question that I’ve felt a little lost.

The breakup woke me up – was the tipping point – the last straw to a realization – that I was developing characteristics that I didn’t want to have, that I wasn’t being proactive but inactive in pursuing the life that I want, that I lost my sense of adventure and was no longer pushing myself to try new things, make new friends…

In the past couple of months, I’ve changed that.  I’ve started to gain parts of me back that I hadn’t even realized were lost.  And, I’ve made new friends.  One in particular a couple of weeks ago, that unbeknownst to him, gave me something incredibly special – a shirt with an owl on it.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned that my sister was obsessed with owls – but she was.  So many owls!  I have at least three, four, five owl-related items of hers.  So, being given this shirt…  If I was sure of the afterlife, I would take it as a clear sign of my sister reassuring me that everything will be okay.  That I’m on the right path.  Since I am unsure, though, I just let myself enjoy the comfort of the notion without questioning the reality of it.

In yoga, at the end of every class – you lay in corpse pose (Savasana), a meditative, quiet pose.  As the teacher brings your awareness back, she usually discusses that in corpse pose you let your old self die and you are reborn a better version of yourself.  If only it were really that easy…but maybe it is?

It’s as if everything I’ve been through in the past…well, decade really…was pushing me towards this ledge…and instead of letting it all go and jumping off – arms wide open…I clung on to it all, kept myself from falling – saw it as falling, saw it as failing.  And, I’m still hesitant…I don’t think I’ve quite made the leap yet, but I’m looking over the edge and I’m no longer scared of not knowing what’s below, instead I’m starting to feel that excitement of the unknown that I lost a while back…  I can feel it burning in my belly, twinkling in my eyes…  I’m finding myself, again.  And gawd, how I’ve missed me.

It’s a strange thing to lose yourself…but it’s an amazing thing to regain yourself, even if it’s only a little at a time.

I’m going to end this post with my own version of the closing of every yoga class, because, well, it’s about honoring the light within each one of us.  I know it sounds a little froo froo, but for me, it’s come to mean being true to myself, accepting who I am but also working towards who I want to be, and acknowledging others doing the same in their own way. And even further, providing encouragement and support to one another as we try to become these better versions of ourselves.  (Yeah yeah – I’ve obviously become a yogi – so sue me.)

So with that:

The unique, twinkling, transforming light within me honors the equally unique, radiant, and powerful light within each one of you.

Namaste.

 

Last Tag

My dad’s side of the family plays this game.  Last Tag.  I’m not sure where it came from or who invented it, but it is the ultimate version of tag and to this day, not one family visit has ended without it.  The rules are simple.  The same ones as tag, except with a nice twist. You only play this right before you’re about to leave, because the point is to tag as many family members as you can last.

The game begins when the family visit ends (and I mean literally coming to an end…bags are packed, car is ready – sometimes, the car is even on).  Everyone will be hugging and saying goodbye.  Up to this point, things are good, normal.  We are the frickin’ Brady Bunch.  But then, someone will go in for a hug to say goodbye and as they pull away, a hand swings back to hit them in the arm and the crucial words are uttered: “Last tag.”

And all pandemonium breaks loose.

Usually, an aunt or uncle starts it.  But the moment those words are spoken, there are no more hugs or sweet goodbyes.  The gloves are off and a seemingly-normal family is turned into a crazed bunch of animals running through the streets, the house, the yards with only one thought in mind: I MUST WIN.

Now, the aunts and uncles, the grandparents – they’re easy.  All you really have to watch out for are the quick tag-backs, because they’ll only chase you for so long.  Once you wear them down, you just gotta tag them and jump away before their longer, lightning-quick arms (or legs – there’s no limb discrimination with the tags) snap out to get you.  It’s the cousins that are the true challenge.

It’s the cousins that run through the neighborhood…run in the middle of the streets…  That refuse, REFUSE, to give up.  To give in.  To surrender.  Okay, maybe it’s mainly me and my cousin Edward who have been trying to outdo each other in this game, since the beginning of our wee little lives…but still…

This game can extend actually leaving by over an hour.  It’s usually ended, because the adults (I say this, but this is exactly what happened last time we played about 8 months ago and I am well into adulthood – so, here adults means the OLDER adults) will either holler at their kid that the car is about to go or will literally start driving towards them.  This is key.  If you can get in that car and slam the door shut and lock it and make sure the windows are rolled up and have tagged your target last, well, you’ve won.  Really, it’s about tagging everyone (or Edward) and getting in the car safely.  If you’re not the one leaving, a good strategy can be to also get in the car, especially if you can do so first without the other person knowing and surprise attack them and hop outta the car.  Doesn’t always work out great but if it does – that’s the best!

It’s my favorite (albeit chaotic) family tradition.

At my sister’s funeral we had a place to write down messages and memories of my sister, my cousin (Edward’s brother) wrote her a message and ended it with: Last Tag.

I found this to be perfect.  The perfect send off from a cousin, from our family really.  And, I’ve been thinking about this lately, because – well, soon my sister will have been gone for two years……and because, the cousins I’ve mentioned – their father just died.

It was completely unexpected.  And although my cousins are adults, they’ve still lost their dad. I don’t want them to have to go through this.

Eight months ago, he was their getaway driver.  He was giggling evilly at me, as I was scowling at him through the car window for helping them escape.  Eight months ago, he was here, still playing Last Tag, in all its glory.  And now, he’s gone.

So, as my cousin wrote to my sister, I will now write it to my uncle.

Last Tag, Uncle.

I’ll miss you.