Phone in hand. She laughed at a text. One hand on the wheel, the other on her phone. The radio blasting her favorite song. Her best friend in the seat beside her, heading to the shore.
Windows down, wind tossing their long locks about. Summer’s heat warmed the leather back seat, where suitcases lay.
She showed the text to her best friend, who laughed and gave advice of how to reply.
A reply that was almost finished, and almost sent by a teenage girl whose hair was tossed about, who almost made it to the shore with her best friend.
Pain surged through his body. His hands were splintered and bloodied. His eyes were too puffy to make out who was standing in front of him, and his head was throbbing from all of the loud noises. Blood dripped down his face, and his back was striped with dried blood. He tripped, and the man a few feet in front of him continued to mock him and yell at his fumbling. The crowds laughed and shouted various taunts and torments.
Finally, he had reached his destination. The man who walked in front took the cross he carried.
Death awaited him.
She cradled a box of memories where photographs from birthday parties, autographs given in yearbooks, compact discs created by best friends, and tickets from movie theatres were enclosed. Boxes lined up against the bedroom wall, packed with books, picture frames, movies, and toys. She stood in what once was her bedroom, where posters covered so much wall space she’d forgotten how the walls looked. She turned to see a bare door propped open, where signs that read, “KNOCK BEFORE ENTERING!” and, “ABIGAIL’S ROOM- GIRLS ONLY,” once hung.
A tear formed in her eye and fell.
It’s all only memories now.
Photos lined the mantel. Portraits taken of the grandkids, school pictures of nieces and nephews, sports photos of sons when they were involved in such activities in grade school, and wedding photos of daughters. Candid photos from events graced the hallways, and goofy faces were displayed in bedrooms. Albums packed with pictures from trips, and visual memories of the deceased are forever captured on paper.
Smiles, laughs, births, weddings, proms, dances, football games, date nights, game nights, hugs, giggles, and milestones hanging on walls, displayed in frames, and arranged in photo albums.
Generations remembered, past and present.
This is family.
Inside, I’m numb.
No matter telling them though. Mom wasn’t at all thrilled when I argued that I didn’t need counseling, that I was able to handle the death of Dean.
Over the years, I learned how to cry silently, how to write out thoughts (as I am here), how to never mention Dean (unless I wanted some sort of mini-therapy session from Mom), and how to act like I never even had a brother in the first place.
I have learned not only how to pretend this all didn’t happen, but how to pretend so well, that I’ve lost my true joy.