Tag Archives: siblings

I Guess I’ll know by August 8th

Or not.

I just walked out to the kitchen before starting this, passed by the photo of my sister on the wall, and said some bad words. Not said some bad words at the photo (or my sister), just said some bad words ‘cos I knew I was coming back here to try to write and that it wasn’t going to go really well.

Blog not going well since sister died, eh?

I keep telling myself that this [writer’s block thing, don’t call it that — okay]… lull is due to… mmmwhat?

To be fair, it’s not just since my sister died. Oh, wait — I was going to say it’s also because I seem to have lost interest in some things (a lot of things) I had mined for blog posts before. Problem is, that seems to be most things at the moment. Other problem is, “at the moment” has lasted almost a year now.

Of course, it helps to remind myself that I have like 2.5 followers, so that’s okay.

Or not.

What’s kind of freaking me out is that it seems pretty easy to blame my lack of blogginess on my sister dying. And on the other hand, it seems like not blaming it on that is denial.

So, like I said… I guess I’ll know by August 8th.

Or not.

Yesterday, Wendy

Dianna, June 26th, 1961 – August 8th, 2011

It is complete now, two ends of time are neatly tied
A one-way street, she’s walking to the end of the line
And there she meets the faces she keeps in her heart and mind
They say, “Goodbye…”
Tomorrow, Wendy is going to die
~Andy Prieboy


It’s been nearly six months since she died, and though I don’t think of it often now, when I do it’s hard to believe she’s gone for good. That’s been my overall feeling: kind of not real — more surreal. Knowing that my sister has died is so strange, but a friend of mine helped it make sense by saying that Dianna had died a long time ago for me, so this disconnect, while strange, isn’t unusual to feel, I guess.

What I don’t know is usual or unusual is the feeling that this only happens to other people, other families — especially those in fiction — but not to us. Because it just hasn’t happened to us, in our immediate or extended family, but for once that I know of. My cousin Leslie died in a fire, in the early ’70s, before she was 16. Though we knew her, she lived across the country and we rarely saw her. It was a remove, to us kids at least — though certainly not to my aunt, or to my cousin’s sister. Other than losing Leslie when she was a child — in a horrible way for her and her family and everyone who knew her — we’ve been lucky. People in our family have died in both normal and bad circumstances, but other than my cousin Leslie, no one has died before their time since my grandparents and before (some of my grandparents and great-grandparents died before age 70, but several lived well beyond that). My maternal grandmother lost a few of her many siblings when they were very young, but unfortunately, that wasn’t uncommon at the time, back in the late 1800s/early 1900s. And to me, now, my sister being gone… that feels like more history than family.

The most difficult part here is that I feel I should have way more grief and guilt than I do now. Dianna spent years killing me on the phone — it was one of her favorite activities. I think I’m still recovering from that — no, wait, I’m pretty sure I never will, really, because you can’t get or keep me on the phone since, without pain for both you and me (see Telephone Thing).

I’ve been trying to write this as some kind of tribute, tried to make it prettier or better than it is or was, and it hasn’t worked. Not going to happen. And it’s fucked me up for blogging, obviously. I got stuck at Dianna and haven’t been able to get past her to get back to writing (it has felt disrespectful to try to blog without getting this in first, or out of the way — I know that sounds bad, but there it is). Which, thinking of it, was what life was like with her until I stopped contact about 2 1/2 years before she died.

She was abusive, manipulative, unhappy, bitchy… and that’s all without the alcoholism. The drinking just made that all worse, and I had to separate.

Problem here in the blog is that it’s about me, not her.

So, for what that’s worth — not much, I think — my poor, delicate, unhappy, funny, freaky, annoying sister drank herself to death just a few short weeks after her 50th birthday. I’m glad that she’s no longer abusing (and taking advantage of) me, my mom, and my youngest brother. I’m so thankful that she died in a lovely morphine haze with her family around her (I was there for the last month or so of her life, and she was able to recognize me a few times before the morphine took over), that she spent her last few days gently inhaling and exhaling, and then just did not inhale again. That it was not painful for her — that’s most important.

I feel bad for my parents, my brothers, my sister. The only reason I feel bad for me is that I don’t feel as bad I should (or as bad as probably a lot of people might think I should). But too, I feel bad for me that I lost my sister who was, at the times she wasn’t horrid to me, witty, clever, pretty… and basically just special in her own way, which to say is in the same way that we all are to the people who love us (even if they don’t always like us).

George & James

Today is George’s birthday. He’s my six-years-younger little brother. Gotta love him.

This is (one of the many reasons) why:

I’ve been waiting for about 20 years to see James. A few months ago Nitram heard about James tickets before I did, and soon as he told me I bought two for us. Then I tried to forget about it because every time I thought about it, I’d get severe butterflies. After all, knowing that you’re going to soon realize a dream 20 years in the making is no small thing.

Luckily, the concert fell on the week Nitram was on vacation, a Tuesday night. Monday morning, he wasn’t feeling too good at all (in the end — no pun intended — pretty much his whole vacation week was filled with rain and four days of stomach bug). Tuesday morning was no different. Tuesday afternoon: “Maybe you’d better call George, see if he can go with you…” Well, by then, I was prepared to take the train into the city by myself, and give the other ticket to some lucky person outside Webster Hall. But I called George anyway, emphasizing that he didn’t have to go, just that if he wanted to, I had an extra ticket… and that it was likely we wouldn’t get back home til about 2 AM (he has to get up for work at 6 AM).

Leave it to my little brother not to let his big sister go into the Big Bad City on her own (I’m just a country mouse). And he’s not even a James fan. All he really knows of James is what he hears when he’s here (I play them a lot).

We were about six people back, center left, and by not even halfway through the concert, we were only three back and center. Weird how the crowd just gradually shifts and you don’t realize it as it’s happening.

Tim Booth of James

The way James opened the show was surprising and wonderful to me: Larry and Tim appearing in a corner of the balcony, playing “Sit Down.” And the rest of the band sneaking onstage behind us, as everyone had turned to the back of the theater to watch Larry and Tim. Something made me turn back to the stage and there they were: Andy, Jim, Saul, Dave, Mark. The people in front of me seemed momentarily shocked: Why is this person facing the wrong way? But the rest of the band was onstage! That’s why! It was fantastic!

A highlight of the concert for me was that Andy was there. Made my day. Well, if he would have worn one of his gowns it would have made my year, but being that close to him, hearing the trumpet soar and glide and lilt… seeing the joy and love in his face — how could that not make my day?

James played on the second level of the Webster, and George told me later he was about ready to yank me out of there and leave because the floor was bowing so much. When the crowd would jump and dance, the floor was like a trampoline, and I could feel it moving under my feet. Even when we weren’t jumping, we were still going up and down, up and down, from the weight of the crowd around us. Reminded both me and George of the 1999 New Year’s Eve party at Neal‘s, my former downstairs neighbor in this old Victorian house we rented. The floor just about gave way and George and Nitram and Steve and a few others had to go into the basement and shore it up with beams and columns and whatever they could get their hands on.

The concert well met the 20 years of waiting. The end of the show was as unusual to me as the beginning, a surprise that “Sometimes” was the song that “Sit Down” used to be: the crowd-singing, crowd-involving, crowd/James/love-exchanging finale. All of us singing a cappella to the band, “Sometimes, when I look into your eyes, I can see your soul…” Do I even need to try to explain that? Even if you’re not a James fan, take those lyrics and imagine, and you’ll see.

A funny and small highlight of the show was at the end, before the encore: Larry was doing his photographing the crowd thing, grinning with delight while the rest of the band was taking bows and thanking back at us — then they left the stage, and Larry was still there with his camera, still grinning, loving the crowd. Suddenly he realized he was alone onstage, did a kind of double-take, his grin getting bigger and slightly sheepish too, and he said something like, “Ooh — where’d they all go?” and ran offstage looking silly in the most appealing way. So spontaneous and endearing.

So thanks to George, I didn’t have to go to the Big Bad City all alone to see James. That makes it all the more memorable.

Not the most impressive first blog post ever, but definitely the Best Brother Ever.

Photo Credits:
Basement self portrait, by George
Tim Booth of James, by George
Andy Diagram of James, by me