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Faking A Smile

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I remember feeling lost that day. Floating above myself, watching and yet detached. I remember Mom rushing to the phone as it rang. Her face, emotions flitting across it like the fallen leaves blowing past my window. I remember her turning to me as she hung up the phone. Shaking hands placed on my shoulders. I wanted to stop her as she opened her mouth. I knew what she was about to say. I could see it in the sad slope of her shoulders, in her wide eyes. But I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe.

“The operation… it went badly…” she’d murmured numbly. I wanted to tell her to stop squeezing my shoulders so tightly but I couldn’t. The me that was floating above was sympathetic. She shook her head sadly. But she couldn’t understand.

I remember driving to the hospital, a drive that was endless and yet too short at the same time. Getting out of the car, pushing the elevator button, meeting with a doctor whose words did not reach his eyes. I remember Mom sobbing, so painful to watch. But I could not let even a tear escape my eyes, the eyes that were so blue-gray as yours had been. Crying would mean that I was acknowledging that you were gone for good.

I remember the countless people, hugging and patting my back, repeating words that had no meaning – “It’ll all be okay.” “He loved you.” “Time heals.” I remember the funeral, a graveyard dotted with green and gray, painted beneath an endless blue sky. I remember feeling angry that the sky could be so beautiful on the day we buried you forever. But in a way, it was fitting; a tribute to the hundreds of half-finished canvases lying in our basement, striped with the vivid blues and greens that you’d loved.

I remember faking a smile as people trickled out, leaving our home even emptier than before. They went on with their lives, and I was jealous. I remember wondering at how the world went on outside our lonely house, for which time had frozen. I remember faking being okay when I went back to school, the concerned stares that slowly faded away as sure as the sound of your laugh in my head.

I remember so many things that I want desperately to forget. Waking up, I will unconsciously smile, the smell of your fresh homemade pancakes in my head. I wonder what kind you will make for us this morning. And then realization will dawn on me as I bury my head in my pillow, trying to forget, trying to smother away the waves of pain.

Dust has collected in the upstairs hallway – Mom and I have taken to walking the long way downstairs to avoid your room, preserved just as it was the morning you left it. One day I woke up and all the lists you used to make were gone off our fridge, your favorite coffee mug in the trash, and your big easy chair banished to the basement. I want to tell Mom that she can’t change it; as much as we hide your memory, you will always be there. As soon as we forget that we are supposed to be forgetting you, you’ll be right there in front of us and it will be twice as hard to push you away. And as much as I want to forget, I know I must remember, hold on to your voice, your smile, your big booming chuckle. Your bear hugs and your tone-deaf singing. The way you made jokes, the ones only you laughed at. The way you came to every one of my games, even the ones where I didn’t play. The way you tried not to embarrass me around my friends, even though it was unsuccessful. The way you taught me that it doesn’t matter how much your jeans cost or how your hair looks; what does matter is the choices you make. And the way you stayed brave for us, until the very end. Sometimes I feel like I am a reflection of you, your teachings and quirks and habits my own. And I know that when the tears finally come, and with them the harsh realization that you are gone forever, I can take comfort in the fact that you have actually never left my side; you are a part of me and always will be.





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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

zank007girls said...
Mar. 28, 2011 at 6:25 am
This story is soo very good man :D. Your an awesome write, so please write some more stories.:)
 
zank007girls replied...
Mar. 28, 2011 at 8:16 am
*writer lol sorry i was not typing very well xD
 
becca31 replied...
Oct. 14, 2012 at 8:56 pm
Thank you very much! So are you!
 
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