First Death This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

February 3, 2017

I remember the first time I died. It was a Wednesday two years ago, at six thirteen in the evening. My sister and I were standing in the kitchen, legs crossed, fingers tapping impatiently on the granite island. My mother sat in a chair in front of us, her face already haggard with the truth. She was dying.

And I was dying with her.

They said it was some sort of leak in her brain, some spinal fluid creeping into her skull, like a silent tsunami. Twelve world-renowned neurosurgeons called for a group meeting; none of these medicinal miracle workers knew what to do. She was in pain. Immense pain. Every day, it seemed a piece of her would break off and fall away in her torment. But even through her pain, she’d laugh. It’s okay, she would say. By the time they’re through with me they’ll have a whole medical book dedicated to me. I’m officially a special case. I knew why she’d laugh. She would always try to keep us happy, to keep hope alive, even when there was none. She was dying.

And I was dying with her.

The first time she went to the hospital I thought it was over. I thought my last words to her were going to be, ‘what’s for dinner?’, as if she would leave us without food even in her sickness. I thought my last memory of her was going to be her on our tile floor, moaning in pain as my father called the ambulance, the stress in his eyes reflecting the heartbreak in mine. I thought my brother was going to grow up never knowing the real love of his mother and a never broken family. But she came home three days later. The doctors told her to take these medications, drink these teas, and told us to stay alert. But it wouldn’t matter what we did. She was dying.
And I was dying with her.

Every day she stepped outside, the Earth seemed to die with us. The sunflowers wilted, the roses and the trees decayed.

It was spring.

Spring became a season without sun, without rain, save the rain that fell from my cloudy eyes. Winter became a season without carols, without laughter or good tidings. There was no beach in the summer, only desert. Only fall remained the same: everything was dying.

And, strangely, I was okay with that. I felt if we were dying, then it was only fair if everything else did. The world could end, the ground could crumble, the skies could burn, the oceans could flood every city, and it wouldn’t matter. Not really.

She would still be dying. I would still be dying with her. Just everything would die with us.

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