It’s been a long, not-so-brilliant month. There’s been some good moments, and even a few good days, but overall this May has been incredibly challenging. May is generally a hard time for me, but this year was a doozy.
You may have noticed the lack of posts recently. I’ve had no impetus to write; no drive to share. There’s been some sexy stuff going on – including some good wanking – but I’ve not been talking about it much. Unusual, I know!
I’m sitting upstairs in my small apartment on a Saturday morning, eating brunch at the formica table that sits just off the kitchen. The view from the window is sunny and clear, and I’m enjoying the Spring warmth. There’s a knock on my door, which is down the narrow wooden stairs, and I go to answer it. My mother and her friend Pinky bustle in, looking excited and pleased to be there.
Last Saturday was two years since my brother-the-human died. So Apollo and I went out to visit him, in his new form as the ocean. He’s been the ocean ever since we scattered his ashes there, on the date of his birthday in 2011.
Auckland is on an isthmus, so we’re surrounded by ocean on all sides – I can get to the sea in under five minutes from where I live, driving down to the local wharf. But that’s not where my brother-the-ocean is. He’s at Bethell’s Beach, or Te Henga. While the ocean stretches around Auckland, and from there around the country and the world, he is, I believe, content to explore the great West Coast beaches area, basing himself at Te Henga.
When I was a young girl – and when I was a teenager – every winter my mother would put on her big golden coat before heading out the door to work. It was a glorious coat, in a rich colour that evoked the summer sun. Woolen on the outside, satin-lined on the inside, double-breasted and with pockets big enough for gloves, it had a collar you could put up to keep your neck warm, and a belt for extra tightness. It didn’t skimp on length, either – on my mother, who was just five foot five, it reached nearly to her ankles.
Sometimes you’ll find a peaceful place when you’re not expecting it. On road-trip down to Wellington late last year we found such a treasure. Hylas, Kiana and I had been having fun looking out for spots to take Scavenger Hunt photos – we did the public toilets in Otorohanga, and later found the Ruakawa Falls Lookout as well. But what we had really been hoping to find was a good old New Zealand cemetery. The kind you see on the roadside, full of old headstones and tottering rails. Not an in-use cemetery, but an old one. An interesting one.
So my brother died a year ago today. I’ve spend most of the week feeling very up and down – but by the time today came around, it went great, because I got the best hugs I could ask for: his.
I drove out to Te Henga (aka Bethell’s Beach) this morning, which is where we scattered his ashes. It’s mid-Spring here, and west coast beaches are known for being blustery and wild at the best of times. Today was no exception. Didn’t stop me getting right out into the water in my togs and saying hi. Granted, I only went in a very little way and knelt in the surf – but the greeting was strong enough to knock me over more than once!
I’m off to a wake this afternoon. And somewhat appropriately, my latest Express column is all about grief and, slowly, moving on.
I wrote it before Kiana’s partner died last week. It wasn’t written for anyone other than me, really. But there is always someone dying (trite and sad, but very true), and always someone who will need those words.
I had one line that kept repeating itself the Wednesday night before. It was a very late evening as Hylas and I went with Kiana to her partner’s house, as we gave our condolences to his wife and (adult) children, as we took Kiana off to Takapuna Beach and hugged her and walked with her past midnight along the surf. And that long late evening Death strolled through my head reminding me that “you get what everyone gets; yet a lifetime”. She’s right. You do. He did. Alas, that doesn’t make it easier for those still living theirs.
Tomorrow Apollo and I move to our new house. It’s a fresh start, in more than a few ways.
It’s been strange, getting used to living without my brother. He lived with us for over four years, and seeing him every day was a part of ours lives. He had his independence, but there was a lot of closeness there. I still automatically look to the sleep-out to see if he’s woken up and drawn the curtains – although, of course, I remember as soon as I’ve done it that he’s now dead.
Taking an idea from John Scalzi and running with it – because I can!
For the hell of it, I’m listing these in reverse chronological order (five and nine both listed by starting dates).
1: Been outdoors in the central city wearing nothing but body paint.
I am the keeper of my family history.
Four people, sharing a house and a life and making a family together. A father and a mother, a daughter and a son.
All gone, but for me.keep looking »