December 30, 2011
Sadness stalks me. I feel its breath on my neck, traveling along the crease where my earlobe meets my head. It paralyzes me. I cannot scream. My vocal cords will not work. Tonight I have no energy to fight. My constant vigilance, avoidance, cost me. I’ve just begun the tally. I count each tear as it falls onto my lap.
Tonight I will give in to this stalker. I no longer want to be the prey. Let it have its way with me all it will. Devour me with the fervor of a hungry lover. I writhe and revel in sweet surrender.
This will not be the last time we meet.
Tonight I feel like I have been transported back to past, to that afternoon the Graham Firefighter told me over the phone, “I’m sorry. There was nothing we could do. I’m really sorry.”
Tonight I feel like I felt at your Memorial Service on the steamship Virgina V. I wore sunglasses to hide the fact that I was crying. You cannot hide sobbing.
Tonight I want to hold my breath until my body screams “Breathe . Breathe .” and I tell it no. My body will take over, win the fight.
Tonight I want to stand outside naked in the rain and scream until my throat is raw and I cannot make any sound except a whimper.
Your Birthday. On New Year’s Eve you would be 30. Could you just imagine the party we would have?
I decided to have a get togethereven though you won’t be here. I am making you homemade flour tortillas, posole and pirate cupcakes—vanilla ice cream on the side.
I guess maybe I should get some balloons. Some Happy Birthday Banners.
Aren’t the pirate cupcakes enough?
Always more. Always wanting to do more to show you how much I love you.
Remember your 5th birthday. We were living in UW student housing out at Sandpoint in Seattle. I made you that dinosaur piñata you wanted out of newspaper, flour glued over balloons. I couldn’t figure out how to attach the head to a really long neck and join it to the body. I painted it a royal blue color. It was a miracle the whole thing hung together suspended from the ceiling its dinosaur neck drooping, threatening to fall off. All your friends were blindfolded and batted at the thing with all the force a five year old could muster. No matter how many blows were dealt, it would not come apart. In fact we had to take it down and stomp on it to finally get it to break—which totally defeated the whole candy flying purpose of a piñata.
Birthdays were special times.
They always will be.
Sweet cupcakes now laced with salty tears.
Do you remember that book we both read? A Girl Named Zippy? I picked up The News Tribune from the driveway yesterday. On the front page was an article ‘Zippy,’ the girl killed by a tree… I immediately thought of you, the book, and how we laughed and talked about Zippy like she was member of our family.
The story of this Zippy in The News Tribune only makes me sadder than I already am. A 9 year old girl died on Christmas day. She was riding in the back seat of her parent’s SUV when a 15 foot long, 1 foot across section of alder tree broke free during a windstorm and crushed the family car. Her father, who was riding in the passenger seat in front of her, suffered a broken neck. Her two older sisters have scratches and sore necks. When the car came to a stop Zippy’s mother got out, climbed in the back seat, and held her dying daughter. She held the child she had given birth to as she breathed her last breath.
“I don’t know how soon a person can get over this” the paper quotes Zippy’s grandfather as saying.
I want to call him on the phone and tell him.
That is the myth. The expectation. Take an acceptable amount of time to grieve, and then move on.
Sadness stalks me. Grief its co-conspirator.
An acceptable amount of time to grieve.
How soon can a person get over this?
Why should anyone expect them to?
It is your birthday tomorrow.
Dark chocolate mocha cupcakes are baking in the oven, filling the house with promises of sweetness. Later I will frost and decorate them for you.
Tomorrow I will get up in the morning and light 30 candles. I will watch the flames flicker as I try to remember every birthday I celebrated with you. When there is almost nothing left of the wick and wax, I will blow them out and make a wish.
Then wait for the guests to arrive.
Happy Birthday Andrea.