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I grow, I change, into someone unrecognizable from the one you knew. Yet with one careless look, you have ensured that you will never see this. You are, as you will forever be, but a shadow now, a flawless reflection in death. Everything present, nothing there.
The leaves shift. My surroundings become a collage of crimson infused with the fire and gold. Beauty is born from the dying of a thousand leaves. Soon they will wither completely. Soon they will drop from their perch atop the world. But you do not see this; the trees of your world spring eternal.
Across the hall, the walls that surround your things are bare. I want to call this place your room, but how can something belong to someone, who has never seen it, never been here to claim it. But mom still keeps it clean, as though one day you will come back to inhabit it. This is a lonely dream, and one that drifts farther and farther away with each day I have curled into a ball on that bed, cold with the notion that you will never lay your head there.
People flow in and out of my life, their effects ebbing into nothingness, ripples in a vast pond. They begin relevant, but eventually drift away. What is one face? When I face a lifetime of those who will never know yours.
When you died. I asked for a sign, hunting everywhere for some proof of your continued existence. Until one day, standing next to the small flat stone, all that’s left of you, the realization hit like a slap on my face. It would be up to me to find enough of you in this life to silence my fears.
I miss our look. With that look, everything was ok, even when nothing ever was. You gave me that look when mom and dad fought; you gave me that look when I fell, and it picked me up. Without you, without that look, all the sympathetic faces were meaningless; nothing familiar to reassure that everything will be ok. I suppose that’s when I knew it never would be.
You never graduated. You never went to high school. You never turned fifteen. I've done all these things and yet, I don't feel experienced. I don't feel smart. I feel confused and angry knowing that I should never have had to do these things alone.
A mother is not supposed to bury her son. A daughter is not supposed to watch as her parent suffers the ultimate loss, and is forced to cling still tighter to the only child they have left.
To those who shake their heads and say there is no greater pain than loosing a child, I pray you may never have to be proved wrong. For with the horror of loosing a sibling comes the equal agony of watching your parent die with them.
This morning, I woke to find it had been five years since the day you died. This does not scare me. This reminds me life is not fair; life is fragile. What scares me is the moment I turn 20. When the reality will hit me that for half my life, I have been without you.
You were just biking, through the wrong place, at the wrong time. I don’t always buckle my seatbelt. I don’t always use the crosswalk or wait for the signal. I take chances and nothing happens. At times, I wonder what must tempt fate enough to deserve the next life. I suppose by the time anyone finds out, it is too late to put into words on paper.
From the day you died, my world was divided into those who knew you and those who never would. As time passed this gap grew, stretching like a vast canyon, threatening to swallow me completely. Still, I struggle to hold on to the cliff face. Grasping with all my might, I am exhausted with the effort, when falling is so much easier. I feel at ease with these naïve people, at home in a chasm of false reality. They do not throw furtive looks of pity; those looks that make me writhe inside. They speak freely of their lives with no worry for what might upset the bereaved. I don’t want to hold on, when holding on to the cliff face renders me weak, a pathetic glass ornament, able to shatter with any mention of your name. Even if with each lie, a little part of me dies inside.
The worst is when they ask. Who is the boy in the pictures? No one I say, hating and loving how easily the lie slips from my lips. I cannot bear the look that comes with the truth. They would not know how to respond; they never do. They would turn away awkwardly. After a pause they would utter a sympathetic sentiment. The moment would pass; you will have become a fleeing conversation point. They will be anxious to change the subject, regretting asking in the first place. There will be no going back now. That cloud will hang over the remainder of the conversation. The cloud that is my past; I hate this cloud.
So I lie, terrified only that one day, you and your memory will become just another lie too.