My eldest girl was sick and you were concerned. It was just a cold, I assured you. I could hear the worry in your voice. You wanted to come over and help me, you’re an Aunty, it’s your job, didn’t I get that? You didn’t understand that it would take me over an hour round trip to pick you up and bring you back here, and that the kids needed to sleep. And that I was actually fine and just wanted to go to bed.

Finally, I convinced you that you could help me more by being on the other end of the phone.

Your parting advice: “Potatoes. Feed her potatoes.”

a tear for you, a tear for me

I just hung up the phone from Em. I rang her for a little Sunday night chat, to see how she was. I should call her more. I’ve been thinking of her a lot this weekend, during all this. Of what she has brought to my life, of what I have brought to hers. I didn’t mention yesterday that during some of the coverage about little Gammy on a major television station, some footage was shown of my sister dancing with some friends. All of a sudden, there she was, smiling, performing. In the context of everything I was shocked. What has she got to do with this? How is this relevant? I texted her a photo, she didn’t know anything about it.

She told me just now that she had cooked her and her husband chicken drumsticks for dinner and some pasta salad. She said she couldn’t get the chicken right, and it was pink on the inside so she couldn’t eat it all. We spoke for a while about a better way to cook it. We said some I-Love-Yous and Goodbyes.

I cried when I hung up the phone. I am crying for her. Trying to cook a chicken drumstick and just not able to get it quite right. Like so many other things she tries and tries and tries to do. Trying so hard and missing the mark, ever so slightly. Sometimes, it’s not fair.

a family gathering

We had a family get together yesterday for all the birthdays we have in May: mine, Gramps, my step sister and my step dad. Emily and her partner bought me a birthday present while they were in Bali and gave it to me yesterday. It was a small box covered in floral material. Inside was a selection of tiny perfumed bottles – the ones you have around the house with the smelly sticks sitting inside to refresh the air. Only this present was minus the sticks that go inside the little bottles. It made me smile, though I’m not sure now what to do with it. As I mentioned before I have trouble letting go of the trinkets you collect for me. So I’ll just say thank you.

This particular family occasion was exciting as one of our (many) Aunties was announcing her pregnancy. It wasn’t until later in the night that it came out that Emily (who had been answering the door all afternoon) had been telling people almost before they stepped foot in the door, and the majority of the family had to feign surprise when they were told a few moments later.

We laughed. Although, when you did this same thing to me the day I was announcing my first pregnancy a number of years ago, I was really pissed off.

measuring success

It’s funny, the way we talk in this world. The little nuances we use to shape language and convey hidden meaning.

I am married and live with my partner.

You are married and “live independently”.

I go to work.

You have a “work placement”.

I catch public transport.

You are “travel trained”.

I cook and clean my house.

You have “independent living skills”.

I catch up with friends at the coffee shop.

You follow your “individual support plan”.

Sister, you are just the same as me, you always have been. Only you are given fancy names and labels that achieve nothing more than to make you feel more different than the world already claims you are.

No matter what anyone says, you will always be a married, working, socialising, public-transport-catching, independent woman to me.

dear emily

Dear Emily,

I’m not sure where to start, or where this will lead. You know by now that I am writing about the two of us. You were quite excited when I told you, and had many suggestions for topics, situations and events I could include in the finished product.

While I write I keep wondering if I am writing for myself, or for you. A bit of both really. The more I write though, the more I begin to realise that until now, almost everything I have done in my life has been for you.

This time, I think this project is really for me. Do you mind? I hope you don’t.

Love your big sister,

Lucy xo