You moved away when I was young to have adventures which could only belong to you, but you always wrote long and loving family letters telling us your tales. We were missing one of our essential ingredients but there was a comfort in knowing you were always somewhere else waving the flag for us, building your future. You would walk through the door on visits complete with your smiles, dark cloud of hair, beautiful dimples and your unusual grey green eyes that were prone to flash dangerously if you were driven to anger. A big sister to be proud of, a hero to worship, a beautiful soul to love.
The years passed. I grew older and closer to the time when it would be my turn to strike out in the world. My dreams, no matter how they changed, never failed to include you somewhere in the fringes. I quietly nursed unvoiced ideas that you would be a bigger part of my everyday life. On visits we talked about things we would do together, jumbled, laughing excitable brain storming sessions. You never squashed my ambition. You never laughed at my opinions. Support and humour were your tools of sisterly love.
Then the day that would change all days came. You were taken from us, no notice, no warning, no preparation. A cruel twist to life’s tale. I can still feel the agony as I think of that day, though the memory of it has been blunted and dulled by the passing of time.
My inner organs twisted and shrank together into a hard ball of pained loss which I carried with me for some years. Glass shards in my heart making holes that would never properly heal. How could it be you were no longer somewhere in the world waiting for us? How could you not be there to see your children grow? What could we possibly have done that was so bad to deserve having one of our own taken away, too soon, too young, too cruelly? How could our parents be burying a daughter? Why were you, a kind and well-meaning woman, taken whilst the world was filled with heartless and ruthless bullies and despots who thrive on the back of the suffering of others?
Why did I not say “I love you” the last time I saw you? I watched your train pull away, clueless that I would never see you again. A precious moment lost forever. For a long time, I plagued myself with imagining your last moments. What went through your mind? What was the last thing you said? Did you suffer? Were you frightened? These questions drove me insane and filled by head in quiet moments, blocking out sleep for weeks.
I didn’t want my memory to be tainted by a vision of you tumbling through space and I fought hard to remove those thoughts. I found no comfort in religion or in God. I wanted to, I tried, but it was just a poor sticking plaster for me.
I found some comfort in family and the shared pain made it easier to carry the load of loss. In the end though, I realised that the healing can only come from within ourselves. My life has always been a little colder without you. The world has been emptier, knowing you are no longer occupying a physical space on it somewhere waiting for me to share my plans and dreams with you.
So, the best I have is for you to live in my heart and in my memories. Never forgotten. Always loved.