To my Sister Anita
When I first wake up in the morning everything is fine. The sun streams in the eastern window and I feel the warmth of the dogs pressed against my back and my legs. I smile with contentment. Then I remember you are dead and shiver with a chill. It’s been a year, and perhaps I’ve progressed from it being the first thing I think of to something that doesn’t hit me for thirty seconds of so. I’m not exaggerating.
How many sisters talk to each other every day of their lives? Okay, there were some exotic vacations when we couldn’t talk. I remember when you went to New Guinea. I didn’t hear from you for ten days, then two weeks later after you had returned the mailman delivered ten postcards posted in Port Mosby each one dated for one of those ten days.
You were the one constant in my life before and after we buried Mom and Dad. I remember when I was getting my divorce you told me to call every minute of the day if I had to. One night that first week I fell asleep with the receiver in my hand pressed to my ear. I woke up like that hours later and whispered your name and you said “I’m here” and I cried so hard I couldn’t stop, and when I finally did stop I said your name again, and there was silence. I kept saying your name louder and louder until I became aware of a knocking on the door downstairs, and it was you! And you held me in your arms for the rest of that night.
I know you’re not going to write back; I washed your body in preparation for your burial. The thought of someone else touching you made me sick. I joined the other mourners in shoveling sand on your coffin and stood there in the rain until your grave was filled with soil. Yes, I know you can’t write back, but I pray that by writing to you now I will find the answer to how to go on living without you in my world.