Thanks for all you've done
I've missed you for so long
I can't believe you're gone
You still live in me
I feel you in the wind
You guide me constantly
They said that she had to accept it, that it was a part of life and she couldn’t do anything about it. They said that she couldn’t go on this way. They said that he wouldn’t want to see her like this… They said it was ok to cry, but now she’s cried too much? But what is the appropriate mourning time for a piece of your soul? Her brother. Her twin. Her best friend. They told her that it would get easier with time, and that she would learn to live with it. She knew it was all a bunch of lies.
She was in the kitchen for the first time in nearly a week, dressed in a pair of pink, flower print pajamas Roland had given her last year on their birthday. The long, shaggy, thick pajamas felt a connection, knowing that they had been something he had picked out for her, something he had wanted her to have, suddenly gave them a significant personal value. They were cute. At first, almost disgustingly so, but now.. now they were perfect. Blonde hair, fell around her in haphazard waves, not having seen the brush in a few days. Her eyes were red, puffy from crying and little sleep. Her lips chapped, so dried that a split formed on the puffy bottom lip. She hadn’t noticed when it had happened. Only knew that when she did notice, it was scabbed already. She can’t remember the last time she ate, and can recall only a few glasses of water during the day.
The scent of fresh brewing coffee rose up to meet her, and the smell that usually sent her mouth to water with anticipation, smelled somewhat dull in the light of the early morning. Weariness stung her eyes as she peered at the green LED’s on the coffee pot’s face, reading the time to be 5:58AM, and involuntarily stifling a yawn in the process. She was tired, bone weary, but she didn’t want to go to sleep. Because he was always there in her sleep. Always there with each blink of an eye, each momentary victory of the darkness over the light, in which the images of the mind could impose itself over sightless vision.
She wiped tears away. There were always tears. Like her body had become some accustomed to producing them that it just forgot to stop. She cried nearly constantly these days, even when she thought she was getting a hold of it all, out came another stream. She wiped at her eyes with the tips of her fingers, as she shakily poured herself a cup of coffee, took a sip of it, and placed the pot back into the machine to keep warm. Black. No sugar, no cream. The bitter, acrid liquid seemed somewhat fitting for the mood. The warmth was all she enjoyed of the cup, and even that burned her tongue and throat. But pain was something of a distraction, so she didn’t shy away from drinking larger sips than she would normally.
In silence she returned to her bedroom, and because today was what it was, she set about showering, dressing. The funeral was today. The rest of her life, would begin with its end. It felt as though they were telling her to get over it, to let it go, and she was angry about it. The thought was irrational, and she knew it was. Yet they told her that she would eventually have to move on.. saying without actually saying that now would be a good time to do it. But was she ready? Could she let go?
It wasn’t something she exactly understood how to do. She as his brother, a tight bond between them, and to draw it tighter, she was his twin. The one with whom she shared everything. She told him everything. Every deep secret of our soul, every annoyance, every pain, every joy. He was her walking, talking, living diary, and the way she smiled when she laughed just made her want to do more, to enjoy more, so that he could smile again. But he’d never smile again, and as she drew the black blazer over her shoulders, straightened the skirt about his and legs, she wondered again how she was going to live without him.
Then her phone rang, and she found herself waking up from a dreamless, formless sleep. Confusion set, as she wiped drool away from her mouth, reaching her hand over to grasp the cell phone, picking it up to see Tyler’s name disappear off the caller ID, as the phone shunted the call to voice mail before she could answer it. She stretched, feeling better because of the rest, as though the unplanned nap had restored an ounce of emotional control where before none had been. Though the sleep had her puzzled. She didn’t remember lying down. Didn’t remember deciding to try… and she could only conclude she must have blacked out.
A cold chill filled her with the realization, but she shoved it down. Tonight wasn’t the day for these concerns. Today was about Roland, and saying goodbye to her dear brother. Today she would need her friends, need Tyler, Adam and Claire. Today she would cry her last tears in mourning. The voices were right. It was time to say goodbye, and get on with the rest of her life. Her brother would want it that way. Wouldn’t he?
“Hey, Heather, it’s Tyler. Just wanted to know if you wanted a ride.”
The voice mail played, as Heather slipped her feet into her shoes, straightening out the wrinkles in her shoes, and quickly running a hair through the straight locks on her head. She pushed open her room door, and for a moment stopped, perplexed. Roland’s eyes looked back at her, and it was all Heather could do to suppress the start that locked the breath in her lungs, and set her heart to racing with joyful relief. But it lasted for but a moment, as the eyes that looked into hers bore no life. Colors dots upon paper made up the photograph that stood on the wall in the hallway, opposite her bedroom door. She has seen the picture’s countless times over the years, but only today had it proven so startling.
“Silly girl,” She spoke to herself as she turned down the hallway, pulling her door closed behind, and heading to the front of the house. If she knew Tyler, he’ll drop by to check on her before heading to the funeral, perhaps she can catch a ride. She could drive herself, or ride with her parents, but she didn’t want to be alone, and at the moment she didn’t want to open up to her parents. She wanted her friends… no one else.
She was stepping outside when she saw Tyler’s car pull up, and without more than a glance, she walked across the front of it, to pull open the passenger side door, and slide down into the seat with a sigh. She looked at Tyler, gave a gentle ‘hey’ in greeting, as she buckled up, feeling like there’s more she should say… but the words just didn’t want to come. It was real. She was going to her brother’s funeral. There was no dream, no cruel joke. Nobody would come around and say it was all one huge mistake…
She wiped her eyes again, and pulled away fingertips dampened with tears.
His heart rushed, his lungs screamed, but still he pushed, until the weight of the world seemed to press down upon him, drawing him collapsing onto his hands and knees. He stays for a moment, sucking air through open mouth and flaring nostrils. He shivered, wiped sweat away from his eyes, gripped at the grass with white knuckled intensity, before pounding it with the side of his fist. A moment later he pushed himself back up onto his feet, and started again back up the sidelines.
It was pitch dark, and his mind was racing. He couldn’t handle being alone at home anymore, couldn’t handle the way his mind screamed in the silence with thought about how unfair, how unbelievable. He couldn’t call anybody, not this early in the morning, and after nearly an hour of trying to quiet his mind, he decided that it wasn’t going to happen. Sports had taught him that if you worked yourself hard enough, for long enough, than even the ranting’s of a troubled mind would succumb to weariness and exhaustion. So he walked the three blocks from his house to the nearby middle school, and began running laps. At first the exertion was good. He had been spending too much time inside, talking with his friends on the phone, trying to help in whatever manner he could, while not trying to force himself on them. He knew each was taking it difficulty: Roland was his best friend, his oldest friend. He couldn’t imagine what life was going to be like without him, and yet he found some comfort in the idea that as long as he remembered Roland, as long as what he did, he did with Roland in mind and heart, that his childhood friend would live on in him.
The distant ringing of a school bell let him know that the grade schoolers on the year around school schedule were back in the habit, and that he was needing to leave. His private field had ceased to be private when the sun came up, its just that he hadn’t noticed the blazing ball of light rising in the eastern sky until now. Sometimes it felt as though he was going to lose control, like if he didn’t come to grips.. and he had to help the others. He loved his friend, and he was heart broken over the accident, but he also felt like he had to help Claire, Tyler,and Heather with their plight. Adam had said his goodbyes. He had burned a candle in the nearby catholic church in respect, and he had spent the last few nights speaking to shadows, as though Roland stood on the other side of them. He had said his goodbyes, and he knew that one day, he would learn how to feel something other than hurt again.
Ten minutes brisk walk had him home again, and by mid day, he was showered and cleaned. Tranquility was found in the heated water, and when he pulled the white undershirt over his muscled chest, he felt loads better than he had. He dressed quickly, in his mind speaking in thoughts to Roland, as though the man’s mind was linked with his, or the thoughts he had were a secret they shared. It was helping, to believe that he could be heard, that even in death, Roland would be there to listen to him, as he would be for the others. In so many ways Roland was his savior.
He made his way to the funeral home, Adam finding Claire at the piano immediately upon entering, and noticing that he’s beat Heather and Tyler.. either best them, or they were elsewhere, getting ready. He and Tyler would carry the casket, Heather would be with the family… it seemed that all he wanted to do through service was be with his friends, yet they were all so spread out throughout it. He decided that he would do now what he could, and stepped up to the piano. Gentle, silently he placed a warm hand on Claire’s shoulder, as he had done a million times before, and with a warm smile, moved to sit the piano bench beside her, careful to stay out of her way, yet close enough to pass a few whispers between them.
“Hey… how you holding up?”