I'm realizing more and more lately that I don't know what the fuck I'm doing. I logically acknowledge that I'm a grown up adult with tremendous responsibilities and terrible life experiences. And yet I can't shake the feeling that I'm going to wake up and be 8 years old rubbing my sleepy eyes and thinking, "What a scary dream!" Am I the only 33 year-old who ever stops dead in my tracks and feels stunned, stunned, at the reality of adulthood? I am full grown a woman, and yet a little girl lurks in me still.
The past 5 years have been the most tumultuous of my life. Something clicked in the universe and unleased a shitstorm of massive proportions. I remember the night it happened. The night I knew for sure that the world was a dangerous place. It was a January night in 2004. Todd and I had just moved in together. I was playing house. A light snow was falling outside and I had lifted up the blinds to watch it blanket the grounds behind our condo. I stood there in my barefeet making cupcakes for no reason and the phone rang. When I answered it there was silence on the other end. Then, the sound of my sister sobbing.
"It's cancer. I have cancer."
"I'll be right there. I'm coming over." I hung up the phone, my hands shaking. I turned off the oven, put on my shoes and ran out the door. I forgot my coat. By the time I got to my car the snow had really started to come down, fast and hard. There was snow in my hair and on my face, frozen and cold to match a numb heart. I couldn't believe what was happening.
When I got to Amy's apartment, she was calm. She was on-line looking up information on breast cancer, treatments, prognosis. That night we thought that cancer was our bitch. Silly girls. I said the worst things you could ever say.
"Now you can get a boob job! And you'll lose weight from the chemo!" She laughed at my twisted joke. We thought maybe it would be alright. We can still laugh. Everything will be alright. Little did I know then that people can laugh in their darkest hours, even when they're dying. Sometimes that's all you have left: the bad joke.
I stayed with her until midnight. I stayed until I thought my brave face would fall away. I was all alone with her and her cancer. It was too big for me. I couldn't bear up under that weight. I still think about my leaving that night. I should have stayed with her. I shouldn't have left her alone with her cancer that first night. I'm an asshole for leaving. That's just one of a million regrets I have in regards to my sister. Yes, I let her down in a million ways and there is no one alive or dead that could convince me otherwise.
Watching her die was the worst moment of my life. But I'm glad I was there. It's haunting to see the breath leave a person. It's like seeing their soul make it's escape, wrench it's way violently from the body. Her soul was done. That vessel was ruined, battered, beaten. But it was anti-climactic. I don't know what I expected that didn't happen. Death is just a moment. One second the person you love so much is in the world and you're sticking a syringe of morphine into her mouth and the next minute she is gone. But the sun doesn't stand still. The earth doesn't shake off it's steady orbit. And then I'm on the phone with the hospice.
"My sister just died," I said, my voice clear and strong. I was surprised by my voice. It still worked.
And then the hugging. Everybody hugs everybody when somebody dies. It's just what you do. We're the living and that's our secret club sign. The Hugging.
Amy's boyfriend was sitting next to her body, sucking the morphine syringe. Anything helps. I grab an oxycontin from her pill bottle. She won't be needing this anymore. But I do. How the hell else do you go to fucking Olive Garden and eat lunch with your husband and little girl on the day your sister died?
If there is any justice in the world, I will die alone. I deserve it. I deserve it for all those times I didn't answer the phone when Amy called me. I deserve it for all the times I just couldn't be with her, couldn't face her fucking cancer. I deserve it for all the times I told her that everything would be alright.
19 hours ago