Photo of Helena, sister of Nicola Griffith

Helena Carmel Griffith, 13 April, 1964 – 22 September, 1988. Photo by Heidi Griffiths (no relation), 1983.

My sister Helena would have been 52 today. She died when she was 24. Today I’m reminded afresh that she never read any of my books. She never met Kelley. She never saw my life as it is now. She is embedded in almost every memory of the first half of my life; we shared experiences no one else can. When she died she took a chunk of my life with her.

Spring is a grief-laden time for me: the birthdays of my mother and two sisters, all dead. They were the only three people in the world who ever called me Nic.* Now that they’re dead, Nic is dead too.

Nic is dead. That sounds final, like running into a wall or having my life sliced in half by a slamming blast door. That’s not how I feel. I feel as though there’s a door open—upstairs, down the hall, out of sight—to a room whose window is open to the night air, creating a persistent thread of disturbance.

But that, I have decided, is what life is: the unmade bed, the unsealed jar, the unfinished journey. Life is imperfect, unsettled. Life is to be taken on the volley. Nic is just part of Nicola. Nic might be dead but Nicola is just getting started.

Life is to be lived. We can never know who or what is around the corner.

* I have two others sisters and a father, very much alive. I love them, but they never called me Nic.