Friday, April 29, 2011

in honor of our new BJURSTA

...i bring you this blast from the past Barren Season:

Sunday, January 30, 2005
[on the way home from Ikea, Saturday night]

persephone: Are you sure you want to put that together tonight? With the kids having so much trouble sleeping?

brother in law: Oh please, there's no noise in this assembly. This is Ikea we're talking about.

persephone: It's gonna make noise when you have to throw things at the wall because nothing fits, won't it?

sister*: [giggling]

persephone: Hey, that must be why they give everything those names! In case you don't want to curse, you can just yell the name of the product instead. YOU STUPID FLUMVARK!!!

sister*: [laughing so hard she can't talk]

*yes, this was my little sister. you can tell by the laughing.

Monday, April 18, 2011

out of your bones we'll pick seven / and build a wind chime that sings to heaven

Today was the last day. From now on I can wear new clothes, listen to music. From now on I won't fit into a box even strangers understand: I'm in shloshim for my sister. From now on I...God, I don't want there to BE a 'from now on'. I'm not ready. I'm not ready to get up and start walking.

A, I've only begun to understand what it will be like to live in your absence. It's still the silly things that make me want to call you up, not the profound ones. Guess what - they're remaking Thundercats. You're never going to believe this, but I'm on youtube. And another thing about these glasses with tiny lenses you made me get: the last time I pushed them up, I poked myself in the eye! I hear your laugh in my head, the one that starts out like a grownup and winds up like Ernie. I can't believe you're not just out of sight, around a corner. I can't believe I won't hear or see you again.

It's been a privilege to talk about you this month, to say the things you'd never let me say to your face. How much I learned from you. How awed I am by the things you managed to do. How much light you brought into a room every time you entered it; how much joy you brought into our family, ever since you were born.

I can see, with the opened eyes of the bereaved, that you were something of an angel. But I'd trade that awfully-won knowledge anytime. I just want my human little sister back.

There is no ending to this. Only hard beginnings, over and over and over.

Monday, April 11, 2011

big sister

It's clichéd, I know, but I can't get over how much technology has changed the character of one of the oldest experiences in the world: grieving.

Let's leave aside the fact that every one of the friends mentioned here is a friend I made online. My family was so surprised to find that my bewilderingly virtual relationships translate into real - and really nice! - people. But that's not unique to this situation; blogfriends have been my salvation since my infertile years, or even before.

Photos shared online, videochats, spreading the word by email or facebook instead of phone tree: again, I think we're familiar with the benefits of these, without needing to tie them to loss or mourning.

But here's a new one: I never would have dreamed our eulogies for my sister would be online...or that I'd be more glad than embarrassed. It wasn't planned in advance, I don't think, but it made perfect sense: by the time our family in America emerged from Shabbat, we had already buried my sister. I can't imagine the unreality and disbelief of hearing that. They wanted - needed - a way to experience the funeral in realtime, as much as we did.

Much later, I discovered another. Because of the awful difference in time zones, my sister and I didn't try to talk on the phone much. (Yes, okay, I hate the phone even in this country, but phone phobia AND time zones? Dude, I give up.) We IMed instead; often when I was supposed to be sleeping or she was, trying not to wake our spouses with the glare of the screen or the clicking of keys. And because of that, I have records of conversations going back...years. Not even anything as coherent as you'd put in a letter, just chats, in the true sense of the word: random, rambly, hilarious. Things we might have said while hanging out on the couch at 1 AM, and never remembered in the morning.

It's not enough. It doesn't replace being able to actually hang out on her couch. It didn't make her any less far away. I'm still struggling with the fact that we lived on two different continents, with a wide, wide ocean in between.

But I think of how different it all would have been, before we discovered we could live online, too. I can't imagine.