Something happened to me a while back and I have never quite understood, nor recovered from.
I have always shared a room with my baby sister. I would like to say that there has never been an issue with it, except for at age six, when I found out about my pending baby sister. I wasn't thrilled about having to split my bedroom with a nursery.
Now, ten years later, with our much larger bedroom, pink flowers and Barbie dolls have grown on me. She is much like our dad- corny jokes are her thing and I'll be damned if there is ever a dull moment between us.
Dad died six years ago. Haylee was too young to remember and I have given up on keeping his memory alive. The memories are too scratchy, too far off.
This, while I am residing on the subject, is reasonable. When I was old enough to understand, he explained to me about his heart condition. I was old enough to understand, but not to accept.
Fuck, does anyone ever grow to accept things like this? Or do we fool ourselves into thinking that we have and stick to what we tell others?
Death- as natural as childbirth- is not something to accept, yet the one thing that we may grow to understand, like the explaining to a child that they come from the act of sex that his or her parents committed; a grotesque and quaint significance.
And that is a concept that took me years to grasp.
Death, unlike sexual reproduction, is not a puerile subject however, and it is unfair to keep from the boy undergoing chemo that he has many years left to him, or the three year old expecting a baby sibling that the angels are going to take care of the infant.
I am now old enough to understand that Death doesn't show favoritism, nor does it discriminate. He'll pluck you from life whether you are one hundred and two, or merely a zygote that has just formed under that circumstance of gametogenesis.
At five the term stillborn fetus was unfamiliar and I believe it safe to assume that we all live one hundred year lives and died from old age.
And murder only happened when you did stupid things, such as walk down a dark alley alone at midnight.
I am not implying that lives lost prematurely are insignificant, and kicking the bucket after ten decades of living is a paltry death. Generations for either situation will weap over both subjects.
Acceptance is another, milked-out way of saying that you have moved on. But, you would never say that you have 'gotten over' your grandmother's death, would you?
The heart condition is hereditary. And, like esteemed Daddy, Haylee has had hers since birth.
So, I have always remained close to her. She is the only sibling I have.
Did I mention that the condition is unpredictable?
Every year, Haylee participated in a charity pageant for the cause. Other children with the condition participated and the event was overwhelming for both the participants and the families who watched at how many children celebrated each other's lives.
It was mid- July and Haylee's lime green dress hung on the closet doorknob. She was ecstatic to have finally outgrown her dress from last year and couldn't wait to wear it. The pageant always sparked certain jubilance in her that I have never shared. Though, if either of us had to be the pessimistic one, I am glad it is me.
Something she was always terrified of was thunder storms and usually Mom would attempt to comfort her with piteous excuses such as 'the clouds are partying'/ Of course, at ten, these lies lost their credibility and I decided to keep up legitimacy with her as much as possible.
Momma has always said that it doesn't hurt to tell a few white lies (except to her, of course), but you can't lie to your children forever.
There she was, lying close to my side, leaving her bed abandoned on the opposing wall. The power had been out for half an hour. Only the livid thunder could be heard.
Her sponge rollers looked ridiculously adorable spread out on her head and I stifled a laugh to prevent her wake.
I was half asleep when she began singing an old verse.
"Go tell Aunt Rhody,
Go tell Aunt Rhody,
Go tell Aunt Rhody,
That her French goose is dead."
As a child, this verse always left me unnerved.
I recognized the tune from a song that I played on the violin when I was her age and immediately made a mental note to try to get the abandoned instrument from my closet sometime in the near future. Maybe I could play, and she could sing. She loved having mini concerts, where our only audience was Mom.
I began to tell Haylee to cut it out, to go to sleep, and then I faltered. I realized that this was likely her attempt to lull herself to sleep.
The alarm clock stuck two as a monstrous thunder lambasted the night silence, which finally halted Haylee's singing.
It was sudden. She stopped singing immediately after she sang the word 'dead'.
I assumed she fell asleep.
I'm not exactly sure what kept me up that night. Whether it was the weather outside my window, or being scrunched on one, small bed, is irrelevant.
The silence echoed for another half hour.
Haylee's breathing was no longer palpable and a peculiar chill bathed the room.
I was alone in a grotesque tranquility.
I blinked. Haylee's singing woke me up at five AM.
I blinked once more. Daylight arrived.
Haylee was already up when I got up. I exited the room.
Something was off. Haylee was nowhere to be seen.
Momma sat on the couch slumped over and her bare cheeks were distended and rough. Our open living room door revealed two cop cars and paramedics.
I approached my mother dumbfounded; mouth agape and heart a mallet against my ribs.
Her blonde head rose.
"What happened?" I managed to get out.
She produced more tears, and I shook my head slowly in hopes of a thorough explanation.
"Do you not remember me waking you up at two this morning? Haylee died."