When he died, I was laughing. I am reminded of it every Summer and only hope that something like death will not set me apart from myself again. It was the first day of school and I, as a new 7th grader, had a smile plastered on my face. Not only did I feel superior than all the nervous, and agitated 6th graders, but knowing that most of my friends were in the same classes made me sigh in relief. It was hard for me to build strong relationships. As school ended, I kept on smiling, hoping everyday could be this joyful.
I came home expecting my parents to be watching an inauthentic romance drama on the television, waiting for me. When I opened the door, the television was closed with only their harsh cries filling the air. At that instant, my heart started to race as it was being filled with dread. Everything became really slow. Their backs slowly turned away from me as I tried calling out for them, but nothing came out. I could only watch. I noticed how my mother’s forehead lines looked so defined as she scrunched her eyebrows to quiet the sounds of her cries. Or how my father’s voice cracked when he tried to be okay. They no longer looked like adults, but children who were confused, their eyes searching in a room with no answers. They were in conflict with themselves.
Without realizing it, I started to yell. I needed to know what they were feeling, because right now, I am oblivious and I hated it. I know parents do not cry for reasons that an adult would, they have to look strong for their children. My mom, who had her face in a pillow (she sounded like she could not breathe) looked up to my dad. My dad’s voice shifted.
In these situations, you don’t realize what happens next. Your body is controlling itself, and you don’t fight to take it back. In a way, you don’t have the energy to do so as your mind is using all of what is left to cope with something so unbelievable. I remember it was painful, going upstairs. My mind was going further back from reality with every step I took. My eyes were unfazed as I ignored my older brother’s concerned face, his eyes already red and puffy.
I shut the door and everything that was standing “strong” collapsed. I was crying. I was crying 8,000 miles over his body, cursing every mile that once separated us. It was not always that we got to see our cousins. I have only visited him twice in my life and regret I did not cherish him enough. When I met him, he was the sun. He never failed to lit up my days, and despite pestering me at times, he was the sunlight in the summertime over the river that led back to the village. I remember being careful whenever I crossed the bridge, my family was always worried I will fall since it was made out of thin sticks and hay. Zehat was always there to help. Now, the bridge was collapsing and I was falling. I was drowning in the river, but I could still breathe. The warm days of Summer now disappeared, with only a cold blow realization left. It hurt when it touched my fragile skin.
I wish I was there when we got the call. I wish I wasn’t laughing with my friends and helped my family instead. I closed my eyes, and covered myself with remorse. I know the Five Stages of Grief, but it does not describe how much it will hurt. Death itself destroys in less than a minute, and it takes so long for everything to be restored. There were times that I would blame anything to help me recover, but it only helped contaminate the memories that I have. In that moment, where the waves of the river were crashing against me, I put my head against it, and as time slowly passed, I relived so little moments that I wished I had treasured every detail.