My loving sister…

My loving sister walked out of my life five years ago.  She never said why.  My world was beginning to implode at the time.  I told her.  She told me she was off to China.  She never told me when she’d got back.  That’s it.  

I think maybe she had got twisted out of shape when I fell in love and emigrated.  I hadn’t realised, and she hadn’t said anything, probably imagining when was being strong.  I found her empty earnestness grating.  That was over a decade ago now.  At that time I was my sister’s  rock, or so I imagined.  I held back oceans, that ceaselessly poured their problems into my ears, in order to be there for her.  Yet now the tables had turned she  excused herself and left, without a word, as if she had never been therel.  I imagine she thinks if things are distressing for her to witness that excuses her from bearing witness to them.

It began the worst patch of living I have known.  The years that followed have proved even worse than those which flooded in three years before, at 2am, as my wife’s lifeless body grew cold.  The nurses led me out of the room kindly, tidied up, made the bed and my cot, and laid her out, closing her mouth with a white shround around her head.  They arranged the flowers and lit a candle.  It was like a chapel when I returned.  And I was alone, my reason for being there over.  But still I sat there, trying to come to terms with nothingness.  When people tell you things cannot get any worse they are lying.  Things can always get worse.  I kissed her.  It felt faintly embarassing, ridiculous, morbid, theatrical.  The taste of the poisonous medications she was steeped in was transferred onto my lips from a dribble of filthy purple blood that had trickled from her nose.

Three years ago my sister’s reason for not phoning me was that she was afraid she might find that I was “no longer there”.  How can I write that so it contains the numbing, hopeless incredulity that her words sank into me.  There is betrayal, and then there is the betrayal of kin, the betrayal of that unimagined and yet permanently palpable expectation which is borne from being joined in blood.  

People sometimes volunteer that I have done something noteworthy, even heroic:  I left my home, career, profession, and country to be beside my future wife as her cancer attacked her.   Of course it’s flattering.  It feels nice, but it also feels as if they are seeing someone else, not me.  How could I have done anything else?  Even I knew there could be no way to live if I walked away from those I cherished and who cherished me.  What would my word, my dreams, my hopes, my ambitions, my love mean if they were proved empty?  This all sounds so pompous and camp, yet I am struggling to say something that is prosaic and everyday, no more remarkable or heroic than drawing breath or feeling pain.  Would you have walked out on your love?

Yet I now know I imagined I would receive support, and that seems to be the problem.  I didn’t expect to be clapped on the back, but I was confused to find myself unsupported; for my family and friends not to listen, not to want to feel out a path to fill the gaping holes.  But I was the hero.  I became exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  I staggered about proudly accepting my role, excited, despairing, in a state of Grace, continuously misunderstanding, half blind, and letting the opportunity of much better futures for her daughters slip through my fingers.  

Looking back over the last eight years, foggy though though they are, I have to acknowledge I could have done no better, even as I see the absurdity of my struggling to shoulder it all.  I didn’t even speak the language of this place.  I had no voice.  I became the fulcrum, responsible for the functioning of it all, with responsibilities, without power.  

Absurd, even arrogant I look to myself now, yet I was your knight, you called me “Ritarini”.  You depended on me, proud and wonderful as you were, and you blessed me through that, and the love inside me blazed more furiously still.  I don’t know how to describe what is left.

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~ by haastava on June 5, 2012.

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