My sister died this morning at 6:27 a.m.
When I saw her last night, she was breathing hard, each intake hitting her chest like a hammer. I leaned over, said her name and then, "It's me. Marty." Her eyelid lifted, and she focused on me. I told her about my long day of work. I told her about classes starting next week. Just before I left, I leaned over and whispered, "You don't have to be afraid, Sal. You don't."
When I got to my parents' house at around 5 a.m., my sister was surrounded by the people who loved her. My mother and father, siblings, nieces, nephews, and best friends. We all stood around her, touched her hands and feet, told her how much we loved her.
Her breaths got slower, the spaces in between longer, and then she was simply gone.
I thought I was prepared for it. I thought I was going to hold myself together. I thought a lot of things. But, in those moments following my sister's death, I felt an incredible emptiness enter me, as if I had been scooped out like a pumpkin at Halloween. I wasn't prepared.
It has been about twelve hours since that moment. I am still not prepared for a world without my sister. For 17 years, I worked with her. Eight- and nine- and ten-hour days. I spent more time with her than any of my other siblings, and we knew each other deeply. Trusted each other deeply. Loved each other deeply, without having to say it.
There will be no cartoon tonight. No laughter.
My sister once said to me, "You know, I wish I was as strong as you."
Saint Marty isn't strong tonight. He's heartbroken.
98 from Bluets
by: Maggie Nelson
Vincent van Gogh, whose depression, some say, was likely related to temporal epilepsy, famously saw and painted the world in almost unbearably vivid colors. After his nearly unsuccessful attempt to take his life by shooting himself in the gut, when asked why he should not be saved, he famously replied, "The sadness will last forever." I imagine he was right.
|I miss your smile|