Flying with my sister is a picture book with words by me, Lisa Roberts, and page design by Claire Sives. We made this to celebrate my sister who died early this year. Telling this story confirmed to us the intimate relationship between health of people and health of environment. To me this feels like the start of something, not the end, to better understand that relationship.
I'm telling you about my sister to celebrate relationships that make us who we are and to encourage you to tell your own story of relationship.
Lisa and Nadya dress up at Harewood Airport Estate, Christchurch, New Zealand, 1950s; Eucalyptus beads by Maddison Gibbs 2022
I feel encouraged by this response from Megan Williams and Melissa Green,Professors in health sciences who I know from working at the University of Technology Sydney.
We (meaning you n me Mel) never had one. But we have had 28 years of friendship, through ups and downs, towns and states, love and loss, grief and good times. We maybe get an inkling of what it's like to have a sister - at least, some other female someone know you well, across time and place. Someone to place you through the decades, giggle at foibles, encourage you through hard times, without that judgement perhaps of a newer friend. We've had a few hospital visits, the threat of schizophrenia and other diagnoses, the search for understanding, the search for evidence and accuracy. We've had careers about wellbeing, connecting health with justice with poverty with prisons and trauma and attachment theory. We come through all things so far at about the same place, that knowing about how loving oneself requires the love of others. It requires the love of a brave sister who'll hold up the mirror til the fog passes and the words come and the insights crystalise. Painful as they might be, just that someone is there to say, 'You're OK, this isn't a poor reflection on you, don't take it all the way to heart'. 'Feel it a bit but don't let it stick in there, breaking in tinier pieces that might never come out'. Someone to hold the big piece before it fully breaks, someone who won't be afraid, for you or for them, of what's next.
Flying with my sister