…..and just like that.

7856_468795936561744_310334071_n….and just like that.

I might be going along with my day, having a good one for a change. I might be washing dishes, or folding laundry, and I’m thinking, “…I should take something out for dinner or I should leave early and grab the mail or I think the dogs are almost out of food” and then, just like that, I think, “My sister is dead.”
And I shake my head and distract my thoughts, and perhaps pick up a crochet project and attempt to focus my brain on the written pattern.
Often, I screw up and find myself tearing the work back out.
Yarn can be a lot like life.

I’ve been caught while listening to the stereo when a Sugarland song comes on, or Bret Michaels, or Kid Rock begins to blare from the speakers and just like that, my pretty-well-held-together self is a crumpled heap of uselessness on the living room floor. And I know I need to get it together, for crying out loud, I have to keep going, I have to tend to four children and two dogs and a husband who is working at a job he detests because I can’t seem to pull myself together enough to get myself into a position to earn any money.

Knowing this doesn’t stop the salty oceans of tears from streaking down my face, falling onto my shirt, my jeans, my – depending on my position – filthy floor. It doesn’t stop the anguish, the sickening knotting in my gut, the wind that rushes through my head when I remember my sister is dead.

Logic has no place in my soul when I am so exhausted I simply MUST go curl up in my bed immediately, right that second, unable to summon the ability to keep my eyes open another fraction of a millisecond, and logic has no place in my soul when I am so exhausted I simply CANNOT close my eyes or rest my racing brain for even a quick breath of time.

And I lie there and stare at the ceiling or stare at the underside of my comforter (it’s purple striped) or stare at the distressing mountain of tangled-but-clean laundry on my side of the bedroom and I try to force my eyelids to close, I squish my lids against my eyeballs so hard I see shots of color, fireworks of pain… and just like that, the phrase repeats inside my head, “My sister is dead. My sister is dead. My sister is dead.”

Over and over. And over. Over and over. And over.

Just like that. And I wonder if I will ever get away from that voice, that phrase, that hateful stalker, that insidious whisper of truth and remembrance and pain.

But I get up everyday. I get up and ready my children for the new school year and try to focus my dysfunctional brain on something: on writing, on a project, on my own schoolwork, on my resume, on job possibilities.

And I pick up my kids from school and talk about their new teachers and jammed Junior High lockers and terrible lunch food and I nod and laugh and attempt to help with homework and I sign the necessary forms that always come home at the beginning of each school year and when I get to the place for “Emergency Contact” I start to write my sister’s name, just as I always have, every fall for the last 12 years I have had a child in school.

I have to pause, and my throat gets thick and sticky as if it’s filled with slimy cobwebs and the ink pen quivers above the forms and just like that I think, “My sister is dead.” For a moment or five I just sit there, unable to process what I need to do next.

I put my mother’s name on the top line, and nothing on the second line. The school will just have to make do with that.

I try to place my mind elsewhere, try to take deep breaths and rub the gritty sand from my eyes and think of something, anything else. The problem is that if I think ahead, I cannot formulate what a future without my sister in it looks like, and so the vision appears as some odd, grim fairy tale where bits and chunks of the world are missing, like a forest missing a clump of trees and part of the grass or half the sun is erased or the Gingerbread House is absent the candy posts that hold it up.

And if I try to force my mind backward, I simply see a slideshow of our past together, snipped bits of moments when we laughed or got angry or talked too much or didn’t talk at all.

Yesterday, something really exciting happened for me. Something I’d been working toward since high school (with a few breaks here and there for raising babies and potty training), and I was so pumped. I stopped at the post office and picked up the mail and there it was, FINALLY, there it was! A copy of the magazine my first ever article was published in, an article with my name and picture at the top, and for a fleeting moment I was so filled with joy and happiness and pride I nearly shook.

…. and just like that, the wind whooshed through my head and sand filled my eyes and I remembered.

I can’t show my dad. My dad is dead.
I can’t show my sister. My sister is dead.

I scrolled through my phone to look at the last text she sent me, because I wanted in the worst way to share this accomplishment with her, and I just wanted some kind of connection.

The last text she ever sent me just said, “ya”. I had sent her a picture of my daughter in the dress we’d bought for her Senior pictures, and that was what she texted back. She was so weak by then, just typing those two little letters and then pressing “send” probably wore her out.

My sister is dead.

I stare at that text and wonder if I will ever get away from that voice, that phrase, that hateful stalker, that insidious whisper of truth and remembrance and pain.

I wonder how much longer I am going to be this fucked up.

Shattered

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Around 12:45 in the morning, on Saturday, July 27th, I broke a glass. I didn’t mean to do it, but it happened all the same. I knew the glass was slick, as there had been a cold perspiration about it for days. I knew it was slippery, so I grasped it tightly in my right hand. I was very conscious of that glass, and I was so careful, so gentle when I held it.

It wasn’t a fancy glass, but it meant a lot to me. You know how when you get really thirsty, and you open the cabinet to grab a glass so you can get a drink, and the first one you look for is that one, the one cup that feels just right in your hand, the one that seems to make your drink colder on a hot day? Yeah, that one. Sometimes, that special glass isn’t in the cupboard, and you feel a silly little bit of disappointment about it, but then you go ahead and grab another. It works, you know, it does the job. But it never does feel “just right.”

Anyway.

I’ve had this glass forever. I mean really, I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t there in the cupboard when I needed it. Dependable as a sunrise in the morning, it never let me down.  Sounds like a silly thing to say about something so mundane, doesn’t it? But it’s true. I enjoyed the familiarity of it, my favorite glass and I. We had our own little routine.

Lately, it had developed a bit of a crack in it. At first, the crack was just a tiny chip, and I tried to ignore it. Eventually, the chip grew to a small crack, but I found if I turned the cup just right, I could pretend it wasn’t there at all. A couple of weeks ago, though, that damn crack seemed to spread right across my glass. There was no way to turn it, no lighting trick or placement of my hand that could cover the giant crack. And do you know what was worse? Hundreds of rivers of slits, cobwebs of fractures appeared. I mean, it didn’t leak, I could still use it, but I had to be really, really gentle.  I felt in awe of this glass…to be so broken, yet so strong.

There was no way to fix it.

We had a crowd at the house that night, and even though I was careful about the frailty of my glass; even though I remembered to hold it just tightly enough to keep my grasp, but not so tightly I caused it any more harm; even though I was cautious about the perspiration dripping down the sides….even so, my glass still broke.

It broke in the darkness, the deep of the night so black the stars were barely visible. Just before 1 a.m., when the rest of the world had the audacity to be sleeping, that’s when it happened. And the world continued to slumber, just as it always had, just as if my glass, my special, perfect glass, had not just shattered all over the floor.

It happened so quickly, and it seemed that I watched it from outside myself: my grip loosening on the glass, then rapidly trying to tighten my grasp in time, Catch it!; the slow, slow descent of my glass through the air, like a penny dropping through water; the eventual crash, the wailing of my heart as I realized this was happening, really truly happening, and I couldn’t stop it.

SMASH!

Pieces were everywhere. I mean everywhere. Those tiny shards of glass scattered all over my house. I swept and swept, and still, I continued to find more sharp little triangles.

Even today, and it’s been just over a week. I get down on the floor to scrub, and feel a piercing in my knee. Where did that come from? Shoot, it’s another piece of glass. Just big enough to gouge my skin, just big enough to cause blood to dribble; streaks down my leg, bright red polka dots on my clean white floor.

I wonder how it is even possible that I can suddenly find these bits of glass clinging to my shirt, digging in to my chest, paining my heart.

I wonder if I will ever get all the pieces back together.

I just keep sweeping.