Four good things…

Dido said yesterday that reading my blog always makes her cry. I realise I tend to express the gloomier of my thoughts here but I don’t like the thought of upsetting my sister. Today I’m going to focus on the good things.

Well, she is one of them. Dido’s my younger sister by thirteen months but since she moved to the States over fourteen years ago with her lovely American husband, Mike, I don’t get to see her all that often.  Right now though she and her family are over on a month-long visit.  We’re different in lots of ways, but alike in the important ones.  Dido is beautiful, solid and pure.  Her children are Harry (15) Annie (12) and Sophie (9).  Spending time with them all feels like having to unwrap gifts quickly and enjoy them, before they’re taken away.  You can’t linger over the presentation for too long.

Another good thing is that Elodie had a couple of consecutive “well” days in this past week. I allowed myself to believe that she had turned a corner which wasn’t very clever of me, but at least I’m prepared for the next time.  Both of us realise that she did too much on those days – shopping for new clothes to wear at her college induction day, then the induction day itself.  Pacing seems to be the watchword for this wretched condition, but it’s hard not to want to make the most of the moments where she has some of her old energy back.  She has more acupuncture this morning and in three days time she’s meeting a homeopath in London that my other lovely sister, Dani, has found.  That must be the third good thing – my sisters as an entity and as individuals.  Their love and support are the timber in my flimsy raft.

As Elodie hasn’t been up to much, when her cousins were staying with us last week she suggested watching a DVD of their shared younger days.  This was the fourth thing.

We used to have an old video camera and hours of recorded film. At some point after Juliette died we got a professional company to put the whole lot on DVD for us.  Some of the later sequences I’ve watched a handful of times, for the exquisite pain of seeing Juliette as I knew her, but I have never watched them all the way through. Elodie put on the disc that included a trip to see Dido, Mike and Harry in California when she was three, Harry eighteen months and Juliette, one.

It was gorgeous seeing the children so little, at San Diego zoo, at Sea World and just running around Dido and Mike’s house. Then, in one of those taped over moments that are usually so annoying, an older Elodie, Juliette and Pierre appeared on the screen.  They were all in swimming things.  Juliette was bald, laughing, mucking around, her hickman line packed away in the aquarium print bag on a red ribbon around her neck.  She came up close to the lens and addressed me, laughing in a way that was so familiar, and yet I had forgotten.  I had never seen it before.  Nine years after she died, I have something new of hers.

I don’t take things for granted like I used to.  In the wrong mood this gives an edge to life which can be uncomfortable – it touches on paranoia at the fragility of matter – but when life assumes a precious hue, I weigh happy times like gold.  I feel their value in a way that is new.  Losing Juliette has done this to me.  I can’t be glad, but in the absence of choice I can admit gratitude for that small but important thing.

So I watch through the window as Raphi plays cricket with my father. Aged 71 and with two hip replacements, he can still bowl the hell out of a ball.  I will lock the image of my father’s pride in his grandson and of Raphi’s steely determination in my mind and know it’s mine to keep, whatever happens.

7 thoughts on “Four good things…

  1. That was a beautiful post but you didn't succeed in writing a post that wouldn't make others cry. I normally steal myself for your posts but this one got me. But oh, how marvelous to have seen Juliette again for the first time. It must have been hard and precious at the same time.Sending my love as always,Pxx

  2. Gypsy King – thank you. It's not like holding her again but at this stage nearly nine years on, finding the film is such a gift.

  3. I have a lot of little clips we took of Catherine on the camera. I always envisaged she would enjoy them when she got older. Now I can't bear to watch them. Maybe one day eh?Glad Elodie had a couple of good days. I've been seeing a homeopath, and have found it hugely helpful.It's also very comforting to have 2 supportive sisters – being able to share memories of Juliette with people who loved her too is very important x

  4. It's a beautiful post Geves. Like Susan I have lots of video clips of Katie that are just impossible to watch. But I'm glad I have them, to remind myself of Katie's personality and character. I'm so glad you have your lovely sisters and that you found a new memory in the

  5. Geves, you made me cry too. I understand what you say about weighing the precious times like gold…what a beautiful expression, I shall remember it. In a funny way, it seems to me that all matter is fragile, always changing and evolving around us and we need to appreciate every moment. A good lesson for me right now. xxx

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