That crazy little thing called love

I have no photos of Leslie…

I cannot recall a time she did not torment me.  When we were children she tortured me; tore the heads from my dolls, took sides against me with our playmates, tattled on me and hit me so hard, to this day, I believe I saw tiny birds flying around my head, like the ones in cartoons.  Once she even knocked the wind out of me.  It was terrifying.

My sister was a weightlifting, bare knuckle punching, tomboy and I was a baby doll clutching priss.  But there are always so many stories behind stories.  Leslie is no stock character.  She suffered from an almost crippling guilty conscience and confessed to all her imagined sins, so earnestly and tearfully… how could I not want to lift here back up — tell her she was normal, that she was clean, that she was a good girl; even if she did torment me.

The way I see it, despite her propensity for bullying me, all her life Leslie strove to be a good girl.  Good girls are clean, thin, straight and traditional. They are a curious mix of conservative in theory, yet apolitical in practice.  Good girls don’t make waves, and for all that sublimation and self-effacement, they are rewarded with approval, acceptance, security and love.  But it didn’t work that way. Instead she just struggled. She struggled through and out of a violent marriage, through and out of a terrible addiction to amphetamines (all in a quest for slimness..), and more recently, through isolation, agoraphobia, depression and her old friend, guilt, who’s always nearby to kick the living shit out of her over her past drug use, her first marriage, her childhood, and the everyday navigational problems of modern life.  Good girls have it hard.

We are middle aged women with years and an ocean separating us.  We talk on the phone, mutually disapproving of each other, nitpicking, arguing, but in the course of the same conversation, we turn to jokes, reminiscences, and laugh til our sides hurt. We always say ‘I love you’ before we hang up.  We fall out, we come back, fall out again and the cycle continues on and on, like it has for decades.  She’s my sister.  I love her and she loves me.

Just over two weeks ago Leslie contracted the H1N1 flu virus.  That virus rampaged through her body like Conquistadors on crack. Within days she was giddy with fever, as the infection seized her lungs and morphed into viral pneumonia.  January 24th was the last time Leslie was conscious.  That night they moved her to the intensive care unit, where, for two weeks, she has been heavily sedated, on a ventilator, a catheter, an IV drip, a feeding tube and assorted other devices inside and upon her body.  I cannot see her.  I can only imagine her, still as a stone under white sheets, with the sounds of blips and beeps and the in and out pumping of the vent.  I can only imagine the terror in her eyes, on those occasions, when the bliss of sedation weakens, and just for a moment, she swims up from wherever that place is that the Leslie in Leslie is currently deferred.  And in that moment, I wish so badly that I could be there to hold her hand and tell her it’ll be ok, I love her, and she’s a good girl.

I am four thousand miles, give or take, away from my sister.  Lack of money, lack of a dog sitter, a cat sitter and all that ordinary everyday shit of living, keeps me tethered here in Ireland, as she lies tethered to tubes and gadgets in Nebraska.  The distance is painful.  This evening I realized that I have no photographs of Leslie, even though I saw her only two years ago, at a time when it was our father lying in ICU.  She would not allow me to photograph her.  She is self conscious about her weight and does not want to see it duplicated in a digital image.  I do not know if having a photo would make the worry and sense of helplessness I feel tonight any better. Probably not.

She and her husband had planned to visit me here in March.  The last time we spoke on the phone she told me how she had been looking up places of interest in Wexford.  We talked about all the places she wanted to see, about the pubs, the seafood … perhaps a day trip into Dublin.  I would have taken her picture.

Advertisements

About tilliemom

My name is Heidi. I am an American born mother, grandmother, and long-distance friend to some amazing men and women I don't see often enough. I live in West Cork with my partner, four cats and two gloriously sloppy, spoiled dogs (including Tillie). My interests are feminism, politics, literature, photography and psychoanalysis (or a combination therein). Oh, and I work in a tiny grocery shop in a tiny village at the most southwesterly point in Ireland, where you can buy tea bags and butter before you dive in and swim towards America.

6 comments on “I have no photos of Leslie…

  1. Pingback: I have no photos of Leslie… | Tea for the Tillie Mom

  2. professorj

    Sweet. Love and hugs.

    Like

  3. to you too, kitten. xoxox

    Like

  4. Oh Heidi, that is beautifully written. I will go through my family pictures and see what i can find. I hope Leslie knows how much I love her and that I, too, wish I could be there to hold her hand. We can chat off line abut what Zannie does and doesn’t know. Would you mind if I stuck a copy of this in the mail to her? Love and prayers to you, as we navigate this tough time in life for our loved ones, and consequently for us. I love you, Laurie

    Like

  5. Thank you, Laurel. I love you too.

    Like

  6. Keep it up Heidi! You’ve made a great start on your blog. I look forward to reading more of your posts. xx

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

A Writer's Path

Sharing writing tips, information, and advice.

MICHELLE MONET BLOG

365 BLOGS in 365 DAYS CHALLENGE!

Harriet Ann Ellenberger

RIVER SONG (poems & more)

Writer Support Services

Where your story comes first!

glenniswritingabc blogs

Historical Fiction published Author and Blogger

yamarella

An armchair travel blog that takes you around the world.

Itsmystyleofliving

Lifestyle & Personal Development

Abigail Talks About

Lifestyle and Opinion Blog!

Animals are Wonderful

A great WordPress.com site

Poetic Words

Poetry from the heart and soul

The Annual Bloggers Bash

The Official Website for the Best Blogging Event of the Year!

Out of the Shadows

Can you hear me now?

Mostly Blogging

Practical solutions and established strategies to improve your blog. Suggestions that will make a difference.

Red Pepper

Tea is on the hob. Sit down for a spell.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

(Somewhat) Daily News from the World of Literary Nonfiction

GJ Stevens

Writing Fiction. Blogging Fact

Vanessa Skye, Author

Vanessa Skye writes crime fiction & other dark stories examining human behavior.

Lisa Stowe - The Story River Blog

Writing, Editing, Reading and Words in General

Lucid Being🎋

THE STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS!

%d bloggers like this: