i read somewhere that we actually remember the memory of the event rather than the event itself. that way it seems plausible that the memory itself would change its shape and content, much like the initial word in a game of telephone would be morphed into something completely different by the time the last person heard it. so, memories can’t really be relied upon, is what i gather from this concept. whether there is some scientific truth to that, i can’t know. i’m only a musician.
december is a difficult month for me. it was always Barbara’s month. her name day, which is a holiday that we celebrate in our family, more so when we were younger, but we would wish each other a happy name day still, was/is on the 4th. then christmas, which in our house was always a grand affair with decorations, christmas tree, writing to santa or the ‘christmas man’ as we called him, waiting to hear the bell when the ‘christmas man’ arrived on christmas eve. the whole deal. then the 30th which was Barbara’s birthday. she was the youngest, all of these celebrations were incredibly important to her and in turn to the entire family. her elation impressed upon us the same kind of joyful spark that only a child can bring out in you. she infected all of us with her excitement of receiving, giving, and opening presents.
obviously, december fills me with nostalgia, sadness, and a little tearful smile on my face whenever i think about those times, especially when Barbara was still little. she was a happy child who woke up with a smile on her face. in harsh contrast, both my brother and i were the opposite of morning children. never happy. the ‘leave-me-alone-i-want-to-sleep’ types of children. i’m still kind of like that. haha.
not Barbara. she was happy. that never really changed.
december makes me think of our room in Vienna. it was our palace, a magical place where we would invent tales for the barbie dolls, where we would record the news that we wrote ourselves. there were always hideous catastrophes that needed reporting. those catastrophes were always blown out of proportion – ie. accident on the highway, hundreds dead, hundreds wounded. that type of thing. then the songs we recorded. then the sports events that we played out, usually the women’s alpine skiing world cup. in case you are wondering, yes, those tapes (cassette tapes, remember those?) still exist. yes, i might publish them one day. stay tuned.
our room was our haven, our little bubble. we loved to spend our free time with each other, not really going out to the playground. we’d rather live in a fantasy world where we were the creators.
but nostalgia only goes so far. as do memories. they can’t be changed. they remain in the past, locked into a point on a quantum timeline, a point in the parallel universe that is as still and fluid as time itself. those memories would have remained as such even if Barbara were still alive. so it’s not really just the memories themselves that make me so incredibly sad.
it’s partly because those memories are exclusive to her and me. only she and i would be a part of them, would know of them, would know that they existed. so if there is doubt in my memory, i can’t ask her about it, and i am left with a void that i can’t replace. a piece of me that i will never salvage. a piece of me that has died.
the other part is the fact that i won’t make new memories with my sister. ever. this one stings in a particularly painful way.
down goes the blade of the guillotine. tuck and roll.
it makes everything so grotesquely final.
there was a time when i couldn’t watch tv shows that we used to watch and discuss together. tv shows that she never saw to their end even though we both started them at the beginning. game of thrones. better call saul. the walking dead. ok, that one maybe also because it turned really super violent. my two cents. when an artist created miniature sets from ‘friends’, i wanted to send her the link. she was crazy about that show. when i found out that the pennsylvanian polka was written by a composer with slovenian roots, i wanted to tell her about it. she would have been thrilled. she was interested in all things slovenian. and accordions. which are kind of inherently slovenian.
but i couldn’t tell her. she was dead.
when i got a dream role at work, she was the first person i wanted to tell.
but i couldn’t because she was dead.
then random, every day things. whenever a new orchid started to bloom, i wanted to tell her. whenever i had a new premiere, i wanted to tell her. whenever i would try a new recipe, i wanted to tell her. when i got a new car, i wanted to tell her. she would have gotten a kick out of the name i gave him. hector. i thought it was funny.
when i wanted to ask her about gift ideas, i couldn’t. an opinion about a random thought, i couldn’t. little things become big things, and i would get lost in them. suddenly the need to tell her about everything became nearly unbearable. i wanted to burst but i would remain silent, the words clogged in my throat and i had to swallow them back down. they felt like shards of glass.
then, one day, i just started talking to her out loud. whenever i was alone in my apartment. whenever i make something in the kitchen, i would ask her for her help. when i’m nervous about something, i would ask her to be with me. whenever i find something interesting, i would tell her about it. you’d like that, Barbara, i’d say, and i’d feel better. what do you think, Barbara? i’d ask, and i’d feel better.
a part of me always waits in vain for an answer. i can’t see that changing any time soon. sigh.
anyway. happy name day, Barbara. i miss you.