One night I try to throw it out, in the bin. And then – as if it’s a bad movie replaying itself – I get stopped. Michael has discovered I took some of his drawings – you know, the crayon stuff he did on the back of the dot matrix print outs of “Ghost … ” by Adeline ‘Lin’ Christakis, 1999.
“I thought you didn’t miss them, darling? You said I could have them back, remember?”
“Noo …I did NOT. ” And he begins to get miffed. (My son can get miffed very loudly.)
He said I could only borrow. But hadn’t he understood that mommy misplaced the papers – that she left these papers in the stack by mistake? That they weren’t made for drawing on? With crayons or anything else?
It’s hopeless. Here you go. Peace. Let’s watch TV. Story of my life as a parent. And my life.
But maybe … one last time?
I read the story again, in the living room – Michael allowed me to hold the papers again, if he could keep me under watch, I guess. Barely.
I read it again. One last time. One Last Time.
I have to do so whilst commenting distractedly on Michael’s cartoons, as well – my co-nanny that evening when Jon was working late and Emma was over at Janice’s. (Bless you, Walt Disney. Are you a ghost, too? I don’t care.)
And Michael likes Donald Duck very much. You’d almost think he forgot the papers that made out Lin’s lost “Ghost” or the killer truck vs. Godzilla he drew in 3 different variants and then 3 other variants. 6 pages out of 7, both back and some on front – over the fainted dot matrix text.
“Look at that, mommy!” Suddenly Michael has forgotten why I was the worst, most forgetful mum in the world.
And Donald … does something funny. Something that …
And then … I knew something.
I knew … and I had to really make an effort to still comment on Donald Duck’s doings and mischief.
I knew the ending of “Ghost … ”
There was no new ending. It would stop where Lin had originally stopped and the place she didn’t like, because that was the only place the story could stop.
The empty space of the loss of her sister would eventually be allowed to live in heart of the girl, if she made the choice and did not try to fight it.
But it would not be painful. It would be okay. The pain came from trying to fight it too much.
If it was allowed to be there, the empty space would – somehow – over time – become a link to the lost sister. A place to … sense her.
Even if there was nothing. Even if there would never be anything but memories. Even if those were the conditions there would STILL be another part of that “Ghost” in the title of the story and in the universes that Science Guy spoke of.
A part that was enough.
It would be a heart, because it would be the girl’s own heart – which she now finally dared to be with – wounded forever as it was because of the loss of her sister.
But she didn’t try to repair it. Or forget it. Or heal it. Or hurt it. She didn’t even pretend she could do either of those things and achieve a meaningful effect.
She knew that even if she – in the wildest of her dreams – had been able to communicate – through angels or whatever – with her sister in the other dimension, then the sister would still be lost, disconnected, from her life.
It would at the very least be like having a sister living across the Atlantic. You could only Skype, but never visit.
Her sister was gone. And in her place was the doubt about where she had gone. If anywhere. If there was anything left but the ghostly space in the heart.
She had stepped over a boundary to … somewhere … to a place she could only be followed on that final day. If it ever happened. She had left … space.
But the space could be owned. If the sister who was left made the choice to own it. It could be inhabited – by her own spirit.
So the girl knew the only way to live with it was to carry it with her. The empty space.
And that was it.
I couldn’t write that at 20, and neither could Lin. I can’t even write it now – I’m only ranting.
But that’s my way, I guess, of owning the empty space.
We turned off the TV, finally, and I put Michael to bed and tried not to think about what if something happened to him. Was there a limit to how much empty space you could have in your heart?
I think so. But what I had … maybe I could make it like that ghost ending to that story and be with it and accept it. And … live.
Lin was too attracted to Goth and Martin Gore and dark tales with dark endings, like an addiction. She freely admitted it. Even made fun of it. Capitalized on it. Made me like her because she was cool and mysterious, whenever we were in public. And I was the only one she let down her guard with.
No, Lin would not have liked the ending to this particular story, that I just felt should be the ending. She would not have liked it at all.
But she would have wanted me to live.