See the glint in the eye of the girl blowing the yellow ballon? She is my person. See the little girl in the checkered dress? That’s me, watching my person, my big sister, intently. With awe. Before I decided to take to my hair with a pair of scissors and chop it all off. Not my finest decision. Maybe her pixie cut was my inspiration. I don’t know.

I actually don’t remember this day. I don’t even remember the first day that we met, but the way she told it, with laughter and mischief in her voice, I was a hairy little monkey of a baby with a squishy face. I did have a lot of hair. I’ve seen pics.

The first day I do remember meeting her, I met a warrior. A headstrong warrior complete with armour, and she was at war with our mother. I didn’t know or understand why – I could just see the war on her face. A war, maybe with talks of peace, inside the bus depot in Queensland. She, with a baby boy in tow. We met for what felt like a second, but I remember the warrior – the war on her face. War that only comes from hurt.

A war, not of her choosing.

I mean, what daughter would choose to be abandoned by a mother that was standing there in a bus stop with another daughter a fews years older than her, when she was abandoned? I would learn about that war years later under the cracking thunderstorms that came with watching the harvesting of Queensland canefields. I would also learn about forgiveness under those same thunderstorms.

The next time I remember meeting her was on a different battlefield. One swamped by grief.

A war, not of our choosing.

I can’t explain how strange it is to meet someone who is family, yet who you have never had the chance to be connected to until death happens. Oddly, a birth happened at the same time.

The birth of warrior sisters.

Estranged through decisions which we had no control over for close to 20 years, here we were. United by death. Death and grief. I joined her army that day and became a warrior, too. As we sat inside my tiny flat with the hand me down couches.

I had met my person.

My warrior sister. An ally in death, in grief, and in life. Someone who could crack a joke amidst the darkness and shine a light on the absurdity of life. Someone filled with light despite personal battles and losses. We didn’t know of each other’s battle scars, but we sure as hell saw each other’s light.

She was my person.

She got me. In all ways, she got me. Jokes. Perseverance. Secrets. Stubbornness. Stubborneness to prove that you had, in fact, earned your battle scars. Earned your seat out under those thunderstorms to tell stories. Stories of your own wars, your own losses. Stories of how forgiveness really was the only medicine that helped heal battle scars.

If I close my eyes and concentrate, I still hear her, still feel her energy, and still see her in the corners of my heart and soul. I still see that glint of the young girl with the yellow balloon. Her dumb jokes still make me smile.

She was my person.

She was my person diagnosed with Metastatic Melanoma. in 2008. A skin cancer hang over that had travelled through her bloodstream and attached itself to major organs. My person who I had harrassed for years to go get things checked. My person busy loving all the others, that she delayed loving herself and addressing that something was off. Stubborn bloody warrior.

She was my person.

My person who called to tell me that she was dying weeks out from my giving birth to my first child. As if the GFC, a half a million dollar mortgage, sky high interest rates, an obliterated share portfolio and facing going back to work full time with a baby wasn’t enough. My person. My warrior sister. Was dying.

She was my person.

My person who loved life, loved living and fought bravely. My person, who after the death of both parents, was the hardest for me to lose.

Hard because she wanted to be here. Hard because I knew she was a fighter. I watched her fight. I saw her in the oncology ward, with my three month baby in tow. I saw her smile through the pain. Not just the physical pain, but the pain that came with diagnosis: 3 months.

Hard because she had dreams. She wanted to do stuff. Small stuff like see the snow. Go to another country. See her kids who she loved more than life (five) grow up, get married, fall in love, be happy and do amazing things. Things we take for granted.

She was my person.

My person who I delayed grieving for nearly ten years. I flipped a switch as I dealt with trying to be a first time mother back at full time work. With that flip, I lost a little piece of me for awhile. I had to fight hard. Really hard. To get it back. I can’t not fight. We had a pact, my warrior sister and I. If she couldn’t live, I would. It would be disrespectful not to live.

She was my person.

My person whose light I still feel around. The light that chose to shine from another space 10 years ago this year. The light that I have, outlived. It makes me feel like I have passed some terrible genetic hurdle. I can still hear her telling me jokes like ” did you hear about the baked beans that went backpacking around Australia? They got stuck in Cairns” . They are loudest at the anniversary of her passing, and her birthday. I think of her, and I laugh. I hear her laugh. I see her face crunch up in hysterics. Shit.

It took me three deaths and a bit of time to really change my life. Three. I can even hear her say “bit slow, weren’t you, should have lived fully from the start hahahaha”. And it would be said with that glint in her eye. A smirk. Followed by laughter between us at the absurdity of life. How people are more scared of living than they are of dying. How they should join our army. Tell jokes. Dance. Compare stories of scars. Get. Back. Up.

She is my person.

My person I wish I could speak to in the flesh, instead of in this weird transcendent space we have between our worlds. My person who reminds me that I, am very much alive. My person who reminds me to live the crap out of this gift I have called life. To fight the good fight. To be brave. To forgive. To laugh. To love.

Witchy – I love you. I miss you. I still feel, see and hear you, you big dag.

15 -3-1965 – 18-2-2009