Two year ago today my eldest sister left us rather suddenly. We were wholly unprepared. We suspect she had some premonition, some of it reflected in her last paintings in Egypt and in the things she said before she left on this last voyage. We will never know.
The tears still well up but don’t spill so copiously as in those first months. Life is cunningly good to us that way. However much grief consumes you, life pulls you away day by day, almost by degrees, to allow you the strength to carry on. There is however never a severance because she spent her life investing in all of us and now comes the gain. Forever enjoying her love of nature, of culture and literature and lest I forget of course food. She shared all of those with us, a carefully planned meal of some special ingredient, a watercolour that appeared as if by magic on a boy’s birthday or my name day. Books overflowing from our father’s vitrine. Now no longer housing medical manuals and odd human parts in jars, but filled with collector’s copies, precious editions pillaged in the war from my uncle’s Famagusta library and painstakingly found in auction houses around the world which she bought back and looked after. Others saved from certain ignominy as she browsed the church fairs at St Paul’s Church in Nicosia where she picked up books for a couple of euros. Even a book which I had accidentally given away only to find her returning it back into my hands with the treasured namesake in its cover. That is how perceptive and open she was.
So two years to the day she is lost to our physical touch but none the less present in so much of our lives, whether on voyages of her daughter drawn to places that held equal mystery and fascination for her, or in the writings and passionate embrace of culture by my middle sister, the collective efforts, nieces, sisters, boys and all in the kitchen to emulate some of her delicious dishes and the remembrances of special friends who had shared an event, a musical interlude, a day drawing in the fields or an exchange filled with insight, poetry and passion. My days in Australia are lived in this shared light of the continent and hers and long may they both last.