Taking Stock and Saying Goodbye
There is so much more to say, but this is what I am willing to share with you.
By Chava Kuchar
There are so many things that I wish I never let go of in my life, but never have I felt such a loss as that which I feel over the loss of my cousin, Carli. And I don't mean to brag, but at the relatively young age of 34, I have already lost a lot.
I won't say it's not fair, because I am old enough to realize no one told us it was.
But it isn’t.
Carli was radiant, like actually fucking blinding, it was quite literally too hard to look at her sometimes.
While I write this, I am hiding in a closet, so no one hears me cry, my family is laying her gravestone together in Sydney, the place she will now rest her head. And only the earth, who knows both strength and fragility, is deserving of her head, body and heart.
It has been nearly ten months since she left us, and it has taken me this long to process our loss, because honestly I think I always thought I would be writing something for her wedding, not in memoriam.
Almost every memory I have of Carli when she was little is of her in a pink ballet costume with baby fluff honeycomb hair. When I was 5, and she was 3, my family moved from Melbourne to Sydney, where she lived, and we would get together more and more often. But when I was 10, we moved away again, to Perth, and every other holiday was punctuated with our time together.
Carli was so positive, so open, polite, and friendly, and thoughtful, and generous. She was also curious. She was the only one who made me feel like an older cousin- secure and knowledgeable, accomplished, at an age that quite frankly I had no right to feel these things about myself. She gave you the gift of her attention; her laser focus, her interest and it was addictive.
And her laugh, it was the best laugh, the loudest honking laugh, she would laugh, usually at my brother or my husband or at one of her father or grandfather’s misunderstandings and then we would just look at each other and keep laughing. It was so loud and so infectious.
But for all of the strength and brightness she had, there was also fragility. An abyss of discomfort that she held within her. The first time I saw it was when she won a school captaincy position and I flew in from Melbourne to surprise her for the award assembly. They lined the old leaders up to hand over the badges to the new leaders, and everyone had a partner except her, and suddenly at what should have been a happy and proud moment in her life, she seemed smaller, more scared and more alone than ever. No handshake, hugs or our relentless cheers managed to scare that feeling away in her. We all tried to laugh about it afterwards, but we couldn’t make it better for her.
It was up and down after that, the pressure she put on herself was nothing compared to what school had or what we, as a family, had inadvertently put on her. When she was at her strongest and healthiest, Carli tried to assist everybody. When she was at her lowest, we couldn’t get through to her at all. She was numb, distant and scared.
In truth we were opposites, but we were bonded by family ties that gifted us with so many memories together.
It was a learned friendship- a gift in it’s own right. For that, I am grateful, and I take solace in those memories of ours. And as cliche as it sounds, when the sun shines through some dark and dormant clouds, I feel her radiating warmth, and I am comforted again by her presence in my life.
If you are feeling feelings of isolation, deep loss, negativity or depression and anxiety please seek help.
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