I have stayed away from social media for so long, only dipping my toe into it to post pictures of my kids for my family to see. I was tired of the memories it brought up. The jealousy. Now, it’s mid-January, and I can feel it pulling at me. The date of your death is approaching, and I am powerless in the face of it. My brain tugs memories to the forefront that I try to stuff away. I see it in flashes; scenes that would be meaningless to anyone but me. The missed calls on my phone. A car cover slung hastily over the gate to hide the view behind it. The grass in front of the funeral home. I’ll be fine, for months. I will talk about it and I won’t cry. I’ll be rational and matter-of-fact until some little detail hits me. A sight might ping in some deep recess of my mind and shake loose that sense of foreboding. I know they are coming for me, the memories. Maybe I stuff it down harder and walk on, or maybe the dam breaks. It feels as fresh as though it happened yesterday. It is time travel and I am the unwilling passenger. I plead and bargain with my brain not to do it, not to make me look at this gallery of horror. Half open eyes, still and dull. Untied shoes I’ve never seen before. The card in his wallet that I gave him.
I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
“Well that’s just bullshit” my mom says. His plans were bullshit.”
They weren’t, but I am not going to argue with her. Not now.
The sound of your blood being scrubbed off of the concrete through the open bathroom window by the hands of my husband and your best friend. They loved you, and they love us, and now they are trying to protect us by taking away this last trace of your death.
I know this wasn’t what you wanted. You know how desperately I prayed for another outcome. But here we are, for better or for worse. You, in paradise, and me here on earth, missing you, trying to console our parents, attempting to experience joy that is not tied to guilt, and occasionally seeing slivers of hell open up and threaten to consume me. I don’t want this, but this is my life. This is what you left behind when you went on. The memories, of sights and sounds and experiences I never should have had. How did I survive them? Touching your neck, the feel of it, icy cold and disgusting; like nothing I could have imagined. The sound of our father wailing in pain and anger. The inhuman sounds that left our mother’s lips as the coroner told us that you had, in fact, died under their bedroom window. The decisions I never thought I would have to make. The wedding I will never attend. The babies I will never hold.
I am angry at no one and everyone. I am at peace one moment and full of rage the next. I am functioning, I am doing the best I can, I am not okay. Will I ever be?