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I Did Not Die
My room was peaceful. Not necessarily quiet, but the stereo was creating just enough noise not to feel lonely. I wasn’t listening to any sad songs, I didn’t feel the Earth shift before I heard of this tragedy, didn’t even have an idea that something was terribly wrong. I was oblivious, excluded. Confined to my room where I thought everything was right. But oh, was I wrong.
I was lying on my bed that was made to perfection with pillows in place and the sheets all tucked in nicely when I heard the front door slam faintly through the musical fog. My door creaked open to reveal my brother’s bloodshot eyes and tear-stained cheeks by the light of the hall lamp. Immediately, I lowered my music and inquired as to what had happened.
He sniffled twice and stammered, “Sara… the baby…A-A-...Aedan died. He was stillborn. There won’t be a new baby, after all.” A few tears fell down each cheek and I rushed over to console him. My head was spinning and I grasped onto the doorframe to steady myself.
“This can’t be happening… This just can’t…” I kept telling myself over and over again. “I haven’t even seen the little guy and now he’s gone! Just like that!”
My blue walls suddenly felt like they were swallowing me up and dropping me into a pit of sadness. My head was swimming in shades of navy. I was confused, dazed, and unable to comprehend the severity of the situation. I needed to get away, but I couldn’t.
Finally, Brandon left the room and I went to lie down on my multi-colored comforter, which, contrary to its name, offered little comfort. A few moments later, I heard the car door slam and the ignition roar. The gravel crunched and protested under the weight of the silver Toyota. I heard the engine’s grumble grow faint as he made his way to the New Haven Hospital.
Five minutes, or maybe five hours later, I sat up and attempted to gather my jumbled thoughts. I breathed in the familiar aroma of my room. The lavender calmed me and allowed a moment to think. As I processed the day in the solitude of my room, hot pin pricks of new tears stung the corners of my eyes. I gave myself to gravity and fell back onto my bed. Staring at the white, textured ceiling, I willed myself to wake from this nightmare. I walked the short hallway lined with photos of family outings and kindergarten pictures to the living room. It looked the same as ever. The tan wallpaper was still there, the deep purple border of exotic flowers was still lining the top of the room, and even the curtains were still and precise. I shuffled to the corner of the room and went to where Aedan would have played. I fondled his Army green stuffed dinosaur toys and his cerulean fleece blankets. I wanted the flood gates behind my eyes to give in to the pressure and release the hot tears and my sense of hopelessness. I wanted to cry, I really wanted to, but I just couldn’t.
Days went by, and slowly I began to withdraw myself from my family. I became inarticulate and introverted, holding conversations with myself to ease the painful silence. I didn’t trust anyone anymore. I felt that someone had willed this to happen. Someone had wanted Aedan to die.
Finally, Monday came and I tried to go through the school day with a smile. I hardly remember how the day went. Normality was something I had forgotten.
I woke up Tuesday morning knowing exactly what was going to happen. I walked into the kitchen that, like the rest of the house, has looked the same for five years. The hardwood floor was icy cold beneath my bare feet. The snow on the ground was reflecting glares that were threatening my eyes. The bare trees looked lonely in the white, winter landscape. My step-mother, Julie, came out of her room to find me staring blankly at the scene before us.
“Better get ready,” she sighed. “We have to leave in an hour.” I didn’t move, didn’t want to. I was paralyzed by grief.
Finally, I walked to my room and quietly closed the door. Lying on my bed, I closed my eyes and exhaled into the still air. I fell into an almost unconscious state, consumed by sadness and exhaustion. I walked through my thoughts and tried to make sense of what had happened.
Moments later, I was dressed. I don’t remember how this had happened, but it was almost ten o’clock, and we had to go. I slipped on my shoes and walked into the kitchen where everyone was waiting. I can’t even recall the names of who was there; I don’t want to remember anymore.
We drove in a silence heavier than this death. When we arrived at the Montville Funeral Home, we parked our cars and walked into a small room with peaceful music emanating from hidden speakers. We signed our names in the guest book and took a card in memory. The room was small and filled with floral arrangements that made the scene even harder to look at. I still don’t understand how small things like flowers can look so serene at such a horrible time. Thinking of how the world would still be the same tomorrow, and the day after, even though Aedan was not here, made it even worse.
One by one we walked up to the casket and looked down on our silent boy. He was small, pale, and perfect. Ten fingers, ten toes, two eyes, two ears, one nose. He was amazing. I loved him, and still do, even though we’ve never met.
After about an hour of hearing “I’m sorry for your loss,” we left and drove to the cemetery. I looked down onto the frost-covered ground and across the cemetery to other headstones. Each was engraved with unique words and filled with sorrow. The whole place was quiet and cold. I let the wind whip my hair and the tears freeze in the winter cold. They lowered Aedan into the ground and placed flowers beside him. The woman in charge of the funeral was wearing a long, black jacket that dragged on the ground. She stepped up beside Aedan and spoke softly.
“Don’t stand at my grave and weep. I gave the lord my soul to keep. Don’t stand at my grave and cry, I am not there, I did not die.”
To this day, I believe her. Aedan is still a part of our family in every sense. He is an angel, not tainted by the world and not exposed to war and hate. Aedan is everything to me. Aedan did not die.