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.
Great piece of writing Dom.! I’m proud to know someone who can write so beautifully about something so personal.
Jeff, my friend, thank you so much. That mans a ton, really appreciate it. I am glad you enjoyed it, and so thrilled you stopped by to check it out! Look forward to seeing you guys soon!
For sure buddy, congrats on the baby as well! Sounds like big things on the horizon. Take Care Jeff
Dear eD, First I want to say thanks for liking our post in the Panhandle Professional Writers blog. We are new to the world of blogging and every like encourages us to continue forward. Our purpose is to help and encourage good writing. Our organization is 92 years young and we are still growing strong, but moving into the present day world of writing has been a challenge for us.
I read several of your posts. You are an excellent young writer. We look forward to reading new posts from you. This post about the loss of your sister struck me (the administrator of our blog) as the best and most poignant post I’ve ever read about loss. Having suffered many such losses, both expected and unexpected in my life, this one struck me as the best example of expressing those feelings. While no one can imagine how each of us feels our personal loss, there are many themes that are consistent for all of us. A few phrases struck as true for all of us; among them were, “the chemical rush” and “a muddy path without signs, signals, or lanes.” These are strong phrases that hit home with an essential truth.
I also enjoyed your succinct and witty reviews of books. Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors and so is Stephen King. Have your read the sequel to The Bean Trees, The Pigs in Heaven? If not, I strongly recommend it.
Thank you for your comment and compliments. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the time you took to not only read my post but to comment on my writing with such thoughtful insight and appreciation. Your kindness really touched me. Thank you again, I look forward to following your blog as it moves into and past the present day!
Nick, thank you so much for writing this, it really made me think of how Dayna really influenced our lives in more ways than we all really knew. I am sitting in Starbucks w/tears coming down my face and thoughts of us all @ the cabin and the many different fun times I had w/Dayna. I am just very happy to have all of those wonderful times in my memory 2 revisit anytime, Dayna's image is always automatic when listening to the Dead of course, and how nice to hear, A Box of Rain by the Dead just came on in Starbucks, I think Dayna is controlling the tunes in here, 1st time 2 hear the Dead in Starbucks, what a trip, thanks Dayna I needed that. Once again Nick, thank you for sharing this w/everyone. I am always here for you Nick. Love You Nick,Greg
Dom, your character is something to admire. I know Dayna had an influence on that. Thank you for sharing. I love you my friend. Johnny
I still feel bad the burden you carried for all of us those weeks following. You not only sensitively, albeit unfortunately, had to deliver such devastating news… but then handled several arrangements and details nobody should ever have to. I still am in awe at what a great man you are my brother, how proud I am of your contribution to my life, how lucky as a family we all are to have each other. I think of Dayna all the time and I still cringe and feel crappy for all you had to go through shielding us. I'm so grateful you are my brother and yes I believe Dayna influences us more in ways we never expected. I love you and miss you. gigi
I love you Nick, I mostly feel like a piece of me is missing…….
Nick, Yhanks for helping me through it all, and again now. You are a rock!
Thank you guys for reading, and for making comments. I can't tell you how much it means to me. It's odd that I continue, on certain days, to ask myself whether it is all real – but with the support of my family and friends, I know that everything will be alright, even if the answer has to be yes.
Well said Nikolai! Gratefully Dayna's spirit is free to watch over all of us. Love you!
I know at the beginning you said that this post was maybe just for you. I'm really honoured to have read these words. So moving & beautiful Dom. Thank you for sharing this.
Beautiful, powerful words man..