LEELAH

One year ago…

Dear Dad,

I’m not going to mom’s memorial.  I don’t see the point.  She won’t be there.  She’s the only one I want to talk to.  No one knew her but me.  I hope that doesn’t hurt your feelings.  I know you love her.  Loved her.  

Writing those last two words take the wind out of me.  My head fills with water.  My legs disappear.  My heart throws itself against my chest as though it wants to be free of me.

Bracing myself against the wall, I fold the short note in half and put it on the table next to the master bedroom door.  My dad was behind that door, quietly preparing to bury his wife, thinking I was doing the same.  I picture him looking at himself in the mirror, stoically pulling on a black suit jacket, the few wrinkles on his bronze face deepening as the weight of the day settled on his shoulders.  

If I were a normal girl, I would feel a wave of compassion, then guilt for expecting my father to face this day alone.  But I’ve never been normal.  With or without a mother.  Instead, I sink to the floor and drag myself to bed, sliding along the carpet like a snake.  My legs are still useless.  My bony arms quiver as I pull myself up.  I collapse on the bed, breathless, wearing the pink floral pajama bottoms and old concert t-shirt that had been my mother’s.  I’d worn them all week.

All I can do now is miss her.  Or try to forget.

The worst part was right after I remembered again, the fresh pain red and sharp.  I couldn’t sit at Nic’s memorial as pieces of me were hacked away and everyone just watched, the rubberneckers who were just there because of the mysterious tragedy that had been my mother’s life and death.  

I hate them all.

I hear the master bedroom door open and I pull the bed covers over my head, anticipating my father’s stern knock at the door.  I think maybe if I close my eyes and stay perfectly still, I can convince him that I’m in some sort of fugue, catatonic state.  It’s almost true.   I hear his footsteps pause right next to my bedroom door, imagine the furrow of his eyebrows as he pauses to read.  Then I hear the footsteps again, getting farther and farther away as they head down the the hallway, then the stairs, then out the front door.  Headed to my grandmother’s to gather with the rest of the family, a long day of pointless rituals ahead.

I turn my body to face the wall. I stare at a tiny speck of dirt on the cream-colored paint until I fall asleep.

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