Friday, 15 April 2011

Sin... if i must...

"Love me, if you must."

My sister told me that once. I didn't get what she meant. Loving a sibling or a parent - even ours - was just something that was inbuilt, wasn't it? You loved by default, didn't you? You could choose your friends but your family had their claws into you until the day you died? Even if you had a big falling out and didn't speak for years, wasn't it true that blood was thicker than water?

I know many families had spilled blood, so surely they would know.

She'd been crying. Joy, that is. I tried to comfort her, as I always did. She was prone to bouts of tears. I always thought she was hormonal. That it was a woman thing. I'm a man. That's how we think. Women's thing are women's thing's - a NO-MAN's land of mood swings so big you'd feel you were on a bungee cord and strange stocks of things-with-wings in the bathroom cabinet. They have PMT, we have man-flu - equally debilitating in their own way.

It wasn't until much later, long after I'd read her letter, long after she had killed herself, that I understood why. Many rivers had flowed under the bridge of life, with us as pooh-sticks floating along, dipping and bobbing with the current, since that day. When I finally realised, it was too late.

But back then, on that day, when my sister was had tears streaming down her cheeks and her eyes were puffy and red, I had no idea of the wave that threatened to wash her, and myself, away. No idea of the immensity of what she faced and what I soon would.

I always felt good around my sister. Everyone did. At the time, when she would be crying, I would wonder why she could be sad when she seemed so happy and popular. Bit of a no-brainer now, after her letter and suicide, and after my own experiences. Back then, however, the world was normal. The world spun on its axis and we were clinging on hoping not to get thrown off. Same shift, different dilemma.

I'd asked her what was wrong, she, as ever, told me nothing. I used to say that I knew that wasn't true, but over time I simply put my arm around her and waited for the tears to stop. Occasionally they wouldn't for a long time.

This time seemed different somehow. We hadn't seen each other for a while. A good few weeks. She was leading her life, I was vegetating in mine. She was 'in the area.' I didn't know she'd been out of it.

She'd been distant, something Joy could never be accused of usually. She was sitting on my sofa, oblivious to the cup of tea - one sugar and a hint of milk - burning her fingers. The television was on, but Joy was not. She'd been paused and I could see the II mark on her brow as it furrowed.

The tears started on their own. The was no sobbing, no wretched weeping, just silent tears tip-toeing down her cheeks.

"Can I do anything?" I asked her.

"Love me, if you must," she said.

I told her that of course I would, she was my sister. It went with the job.

She didn't smile. She didn't say a word. The tears slowed, but she didn't wipe them away. She simply drank her tea, gave me a hug and and left. It was the last time I saw her.

It's a grey day today. The sky outside the window is overcast. The mood in the recreation room is too. Even my thoughts are cloudy with a hint of rain. It's days like this when your mind rides the ripples of the sea of melancholy and you end up feeling sea sick. It's days like this when you figure things out.

"Love me, if you must."

She thought I loved her, not because she was my sister. Not because I liked her. Not because our parents were as much use as an umbrella in a hurricane. She thought I loved her because I had to. Because everyone did. Because she wasn't just Joy - she was joy.

She was wrong, but I didn't get chance to tell her. It wasn't because I must, it was because I did.

Probably best, in future (if I have one), to not let the chance slip by again.

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