Today I say goodbye to my sister.
I say goodbye to my sister whose sadness was a weight, whose sorrow was an ocean and whose tenuous grip on life was a broken hand clinging to the hard ships which had carried her so far but were destined to never reach the promised land her heart had set to find all those years ago. I say goodbye to my sister who could no longer carry the heartache, violence and pain which had plagued her one true desperate search, the search for a Love through which to transcend herself and find peace.
This sister passed two weeks ago in a final act of stubborn defiance, a lonely raging against all that cursed this beautiful but fragile journey that she called Life.
To this sister I say I love you and goodbye, beautiful. Goodbye my broken but beloved Jodi-Pops.
Today I welcome, greet and happily introduce to you all to the incredible, powerful and inspiring sister of my memory and heart. The sister that I knew in her True Form. For my sister was not defined by the often difficult circumstances of her life. The sister I knew lived, laughed and loved despite of them. She danced in open spite of them.
So I will not stand here and openly examine what brought her heart to an end but instead share with you what end her heart brought to us. I will share with you the meaning that my sister's heart meant to me.
Determination, strength, humour, loyalty, kindness, generosity and love.
Jodi was determined, stubborn and strong. She was an Atlas, an ox, an elephant. She never forgot but would always forgive. When I was thirteen years old a very tall, very strong, very blonde man held my tiny five foot two mother against a wall and punched her repeatedly. I stood there in shock. Jodi did not. Jodi was seventeen years old and leaped into the fray without a single thought for her well being. Her only instinct was to protect those she loved. I watched her punch a grown man in the face to protect her mother. And the shock of her doing that made everything and everyone stop. The grown ups walked away and went to separate bedrooms. I stood open mouthed in the hallway until Jodi said, let's go downstairs and steal some wine, matty, you look like you need some. I did. We did.
Jodi fought her entire life.
In the late eighties, early nineties, the Australian Navy picked a fight with Jodi over the fact that she loved women. They made her life so difficult and did things to her so terrible that even now as I recite her life for you to understand, I still will not share the things I know they did to her.
For the simple crime of loving women, The Navy made life so difficult for Jodi that she was left with little recourse than to fight back. In a counter strike worthy of a master politician Jodi appeared out of the blue as a double page spread in the centre of Who Magazine. Her big, beautiful face on the paper with the words "gays in the military" splashed across it and her bleeding heart splashed wide open in the article that ran beside it. The Australian Navy had picked a fight with my sister and stubborn and proud of who she was she would not lie down and disappear. Her instinct was to protect herself, to fight for her rights and the women she loved. But to do so openly. To call the world to her aid.
What possible crime had she committed, she would cry. What right does any organisation have to tell a single, free soul who they can or cannot love. Jodi was right, they were wrong and she knew it. I learned a lot from my sister back then. I learned the value of fighting for what you believed in, no matter the cost. Not long after, Jodi was dishonourably discharged. The fight was over and to everyone but Jodi the Navy had won.
24 years later Jodi received a substantial payout and apology from the Navy. Never in those 24 years did Jodi stray from her conviction. I love her for that. I love her for knowing what was right and not letting go, no matter what the world did to her.
Jodi was silly, fun, hilarious, unabashed and unashamed. Jodi was a bumbling, trembling, clumsy goofball. Jodi could be so dumb that she would forget she was so perceptive and intelligent. But Jodi's intelligence was not mathematical or analytical. Jodi's intelligence and smarts were born of a simple, clear vision of the world. She saw clearly what this world has the capacity to be and how it has lost its way. Jodi didn't believe in things, she knew things.
She saw the deep and simple truth that the world needs laughter, it needs to dance, it needs to feel joy, to be playful and childlike. The world needs to be pushed, to be embarrassed out of its self infatuation into humility.
This world that "powerful men" have created needs to be shown for the self-important, slef-destructive bullshit it really is. But this world fights against people like Jodi who live outside its confines, it actively seeks to destroy them, to cut the non-conforming cells out of the body and force compliance upon them.
Tonight in celebration I see Jodi clear as day, lighting one last cigarette, drinking one last can and staring the grey, lifeless world in the eyes as it came for her that one last time. Tonight I see Jodi saying, if I am going to die, I will die in my own way. This world will not kill me. I will kill me.
Jodi was kindness and generosity.
She lived and taught the understanding that at the moment of death a person should measure their life not by how much they have accumulated, but by how much they have given.
Jodi was the first to ask when she needed help, whether it was money, a place to stay or simply a hug. But if Jodi ever saw someone in need, she would give everything, anything she owned to help that person. Like a pauper in desperate need of change, Jodi would gladly hand the world around her the last of her coins.
The religions of the world pretend to worship people like that
But more than any other quality, Jodi was love. Being the recipient of this love for 42 years I can describe its every detail, its incredible spirit, its all powerful, all consuming warmth. Jodi had a star burning in her heart so mighty she was unable to control it. Its force led her to adopt stray dogs by the dozen, big ones, little ones, ones with no teeth as well as four stray cats, two snakes, stray plants, stray friends, stray lovers, other people's families, other people's friends, other people's lovers. Nothing could escape the light of Jodi's love once it had proved its worth to her. And like a star, Jodi gave and gave, selflessly bringing light to every corner of her life, some so dark no one but Jodi could or would love them. Because of this, some people thought Jodi was a mess.
But I saw her true form. Jodi was a saint. An angel whose capacity for loving those around her could not be sustained by her physical form. She ached for someone to love her in this same way. When I told her I did she would say, no…I need more than that...and she would leave my house and follow her blazing heart down some other pathway, some other alley, into some other dark corner of the world where people would receive her love with selfish gratitude whether they were able to return it or not.
This is the Jodi that lives on today. The bright burning star of Love. This is the sister that I introduce to you today and who stands beside me now, and will forever live inside me and inspire me to be a greater, more giving person. This is the Jodi that is here with us now and who feels nothing but giddy love, joy and sparkly goofy gratitude that we are today able to come together like this and finally appreciate her for who she was.
This is my best friend, my protector, my sister, my parent and my child. And I am grateful to have known a Jodi that some of you have met, and some of you have misunderstood but all of you have loved. And I am grateful that in the 42 years I shared with Jodi, I found many opportunities to say to her the things I say to you today. I love you, Pops, Poopy Poo, Bum Fluff. I love you.
Always have, always will.