11 years ago today my older sister passed away.
She was only 15 years old.
Leaving behind my mum and dad, older sister, myself and younger brother.
Since that Monday afternoon on January 19, 2004 approximately 4pm, it’s been a hard journey….
Early on you wonder…
What did we do to deserve this?
When will the pain stop?
Is this real?
How will we continue on?
After you ask yourself all the questions, to which you may, or may not, find any answers, you cry. And you cry a lot. You cry so much that your eyes hurt. Once you think all the tears have gone you MUST, and you do, continue on.
It’s hard to put into words what it’s been like. You can only really understand if you have lost a loved one before. And even then, we all have our own subjective experience. How we grieve is based purely on the relationship we had with said person.
I could try to explain what I think it was like for each of my family members but, well, I just don't know. I'm not a mind reader, I can't speak for them. Nor would I want to. Each one has their own memories of her and it is not my place to depict their feelings or experiences.
I can, however, speak for myself...
I remember a cheeky older sister who was always up to mischief and always one for a practical joke. In my opinion, she was an older brother and another son to my brother and dad, a partner in crime and best friend to my older sister and a fun loving, can weasel her way out of anything daughter to my mum.
One specific memory I have of her is when it was just the two of us alone at home. Mum and Dad were at work and the other two….well, I don’t know where they were.
It was September school holidays, and my sister had decided to bake butterscotch scrolls. As delicious as they were, they were kind of under baked and alas a food fight erupted in the house. This escalated quickly into a water fight outside and eventually we decided to share a bath (fully clothed) because we had gotten so cold.
There are many more memories I could share with you but I should probably get to the point of this post.
My mum has this old cake cookbook. I don’t think we ever baked anything from it except this cake. My sister used to always bake this cake and with 6 people in the house it would never last more than a day. This is why it is known, and will always be known, as the One Day Cake.
Just a simple chocolate cake with, as my brother said the other day, a ‘hectic’ chocolate frosting. I’ve included the recipe from the actual book and as you can see from the food stains it is a much loved recipe in our house.
I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and that Penny was not meant to spend a long time on earth (partly because she was an energiser bunny and would've hated getting old). It's hard to imagine how our lives would have turned out if she was still around. It's almost like she was never here. It's become a new normal.
But considering all this, I will never forget her and, even after 11 years, I'm still learning to live on in her absence.
Be loud, be brave, stay cool and have a pisser.
Penny Catherine Collins.