This post is a little bit on the heavy side. It isn’t for everyone, in reality in some respects it may be just for me. Why share something so personal? Well, for selfish reasons. It brings me closer to her. But also, it is a chance for me to put some real feelings on paper, and to try and capture the utter loss I felt on that day, one year ago.
If you are up for it, read on. If not, totally understand.
In memory of my sister, Dayna.
Last year, I learned loss. I had suffered it, before, as anyone my age likely has, at least to some degree. A year later, I recognize that it may be that loss is just part of life; how we allow it to attach to who we are is our only influence.
Loss is born, and it grows on the fuel of our emotions.
It grabbed a hold of me, and dug its roots into a melody that we often hummed together.
Well I ain’t often right but I’ve never been wrong, It seldom turns out the way it does in the song, Once in a while you get shown the light, In the strangest of places if you look at it right.
The creases in the details, a hazy zigzag of questions and unwanted answers, still replay in my mind even though it was a day I’m desperate not to relive. The raw emotions that conquered reality continue to tug at my reason; a constant question lingers deep in my mind: is this real? I felt lost before I felt loss. I was on the wrong side of euphoria; the miracle of my humanness was never so apparent. Is this real? My humility peaked only when from within, somehow, I conquered a defensive push to answer my own the question. Is this real? I answered, yes it was real. It had to be. For a brief instant, the humility made me feel the most alive when I would have preferred to feel nothing.
I’m afraid it is totally real, I told myself again. The answer came with company, first with grief, but second with a charge of chemical numbness that some spend the rest of their lives trying to find again. Part of me welcomed the ability to focus on incredibly minute details without emotion. But this is not how she would have wanted me to feel.
In the thick of the evening when the dealing got rough, She was too pat to open and too cool to bluff, As I picked up my matches and was closing the door, I had one of those flashes I had been there before
I allowed the emotion back in, yet the notion that the Sherriff’s details were a trick of my imagination lingered. I had not told anyone yet, and maybe I wouldn’t have to if the whole thing was just a long strange trip. It would only be fair since the Sherriff’s words landed me in a place totally unfamiliar. He said my sister’s name, he said my name, and he said that he was sorry but that he needed me to call him back. I wish I would have answered the call rather than check my voicemail, even though I would later find out that it would not have mattered. To this day, I still wish that I would have answered.
The deepness in which reality sunk me into the couch, the purpose in which I stared at nothing, my eagerness to hear a sound, any sound, and the ultimate resolve to do the unthinkable and return the Sherriff’s phone call, all precipitated loss. I searched for a melody, but heard nothing to guide me.
She had rings on her fingers and bells on her shoes, And I knew without asking she was into the blues, She wore scarlet begonias, tucked into her curls, I knew right away she was not like other girls
I wished I would have answered, even though it would not have mattered. Maybe I just didn’t want to make that call. Without a choice, I dialed the number. On the other end of the line, I heard the voice from the voicemail. He needed to confirm that I was her brother. I am her brother, I told him. I regret to inform you…he started. He said it was instant. He answered my question, no, son, she didn’t feel a thing. He told me that he was really sorry, and I believed him. I hung up. It was real. The chemical rush pulsed again, and again, through my veins. We may be built to withstand such a reality, but I doubted whether I was strong enough to share it. I felt lost, again, but not in the sense that I did not believe his words to be true, it was not like that. He was sorry, and I believed him. I accepted his words years before he dialed my number. The details varied, the meaning did not. I was ready to accept that part of loss, but I was lost in the how and why. Worse, I had to share his words, and in that realm I was completely lost. Nothing can prepare us for that part.
It was over those several phone calls that the true meaning of loss, of our precious humility, started to place its roots into my core. I had to fight the chemicals in my body to get from my “hello” to their “no,” and though later the toll unified my family through our mourning, the road to get there was, and continues to be, a muddy path without signs, signals, or lanes. I could never find my way back, even if I wanted to try.
I uttered the words that she was gone, and my understanding of “loss” had to take hold. It was, in part, the reactions of my parents and siblings. Their voices will forever be inseparable from me and my memory of her. It was also routed in the brief moment of time when I felt empowered to endure the burden alone, to simply ignore what I had heard and allow my family to live another day with her in their lives. And maybe part of my loss came with the moment after the calls were made, where I doubted my own sanity and questioned the veracity of my words. Is this real? It has to be, I told them, I thought.
The wind in the willows playing Tea for Two, The sky was yellow and the sun was blue, Strangers stopping strangers just to shake their hand, Everybody is playing in the heart of gold band, Heart of gold band
Loss became clearer with my words, “she is gone.” A year later, I wish I could say those three words also represented acceptance. I’m afraid I will carry down that road, which also lacks signals and lanes, for years to come. Those words stay with me, and though their sound has finished, my journey continues. Acceptance is only a part of loss, which is a word I now know in my heart to represent her.
I will always search for the melodies that remind me of Dayna. Though my time with her was cut short, I continue to hear our songs. A single note enforces what I know to be true: her free-spirit is my guardian angel and she watches over me from a more peaceful place. She can hear me laugh and reminds me to live in the here and now. I can’t move forward if I only look back. Laugh, and then laugh some more. Continue to hum the melodies that we once shared.
Never forgot the lesson she left us with a year ago: our family and friends are the music, and the rest is just noise.