“I suppose at one time in my life I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell.” – Donna Tartt, The Secret History
Thinking about my sister Tamar feels like touching that gap in your gums right after you lose a tooth. It’s unsettling and foreign and too soft and it tastes like blood. Still, I can’t stop myself from probing at it. Today, on what would have been her 22nd birthday, I find myself feeling that strange bloody softness even more than usual.
I don’t really remember what I used to write about before Tamar died. I do know that she’s all I’ve been able to write about since then. Sometimes this really worries me. How long until people get sick of reading about my feelings about my dead sister? What if they move on long before I’m able to? I worry I’ll be left wandering the tumbleweed-filled ghost town of my memories long after everyone else has moved away.
Grief and sisterhood are both fecund topics, themes that plenty of writers have spent their entire careers exploring. There’s no logical reason why I can’t do the same. Still, some part of me is scared that no one will care.
I guess this is a reflection of my fear that people will stop caring about Tamar, that they’ll forget her. There are so many people who don’t know and will never know that Tamar existed, that she was my sister, that I loved her, that I miss her. Constantly writing about her is my way of remembering and of reminding.
Thinking about Tamar will always feel like some part of me is missing, but writing about her washes the taste of blood away and replaces it with the bittersweet taste of memories.