I Cling to Broken Glass

I keep a whole collection of pictures of my cousin Tara. My favorite one at the moment is the shot of her and my Uncle Michael at the beach. I like it because she looks so small, so breakable in the arms of her brawny father. In my memories, Tara will always be that small; she and both of her parents died almost 8 months ago. Tara was only 6.
Pictures of them are scattered all over nowadays- in my drawers, on the floor, mixed in with my homework- there are probably hundreds. Pieces of their life are thrown haphazardly over mine. Sometimes the pieces are as sharp and cutting as glass when I stumble on them. On days like that, Tara doesn't even seem real, and the picture is only a sketch of a pretty blond child who never existed outside of my imagination. On other days, the pictures become windows, and the only thing keeping me from saying "hello" or asking how their day went is very thick glass. Even if I scream, they will never hear me.
These pictures, these broken shards of windows and sketches of three lives cut short, would probably be easier to manage if they stayed the same, but they don't. Some of them are reminders that everything is as it's supposed to be. Others are snapshots of it all shattered and ruined- like a birthday. My boyfriend's older sister shares the same birthday and pale golden hair as my cousin had, so watching her turn 19 and drive away to college yanked more emotions out of me than I can identify. Confusion, maybe, was the strongest.
Fighting through life gripping hard on photographs isn't what I have planned for my future, but for now, it's the easiest way; for now, I can put them away slowly. For now, they're all I have left.





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