But now it’s just another show, you leave them laughing when you go and if you care, don’t let them know. Don’t give yourself away…
Sometimes I wonder how I will die.
It isn’t a fantasy so much as a prophecy I’m driven to fulfill. Drifting away with old age has never felt right. The universe has tagged me to be the last one standing as I’ve watched so many others fall. Hard as it is on me, I see my dad, the oldest of 11, methodically losing his siblings, and his son just months ago, his wife some weeks later, and friends upon friends upon friends. He appears to take I in stride but he’s a quiet type mostly, not one to carry on about losing any fight. Keep on keepin’ on is his philosophy. It wasn’t until this past year that his cracks have shown.
It’s been said that our birthdays aren’t measured by the years, but by the events that fall between them. My life is a different one than a year ago. Sure, we change all the time before we realize it, and we wonder how that extra candle got there on the cake in just one day, but it wasn’t a day; it was an entire trip around a giant blazing ball.
Time is a conundrum, isn’t it?
It was only last December that I had to tell him that his son, the best of his friends, was gone. It was as if I’d punched him right in the pit of his belly. Just eight months but so long ago. I took that responsibility from the officers because they didn’t know him, or any of us. My brother was dead, a bullet from his own gun on that drizzled morning. I couldn’t let strangers have that moment, it belonged to us.
Sonny took control of his end. I don’t have it in me, though there’ve been days I’ve pleaded with the universe to take me out of the game, but those stars have other plans and no amount of begging brings a bargain. They like to toss me over a cliff but with some sort of cosmic bungee cord that pulls me back with a heavy snap.
I once asked the question, “What is it like to live inside of a birthday cake? Does glitter tumble to the floor like a million little rainbows? Would horns blare at me each time I walked in?” Now I am compelled to ask what happens when the party’s over? Is there a heaven, and is it billows and clouds, or glitter and confetti? Are there ice cream castles and feather canyons everywhere? Does gravity not exist in such places? Because in my world, confetti falls to the ground just like our memories and hopes and expectations do. Glitter is nothing in the darkness. When we go, it’s ashes or it’s a box, and if we are fortunate, we leave behind some sort of proof that we lived.
By all indications of my life, I’m inclined to believe I’ll meet my end in a fiery fashion, perhaps rumbling down the road, faster than I should be, and Death will blindside me. These are the themes of my story; lots of drama to make headlines. Mostly, I wonder what song will be my last. Sometimes I set aside songs in my head, like I’m creating a playlist. The ultimate and final mix tape.
Such thoughts are lonely ones. I don’t know what was in my brother’s head when he pulled that trigger. I’d give anything to know because one last thought could give so many answers, It’s why I’m always writing mine down, so nobody will ever have to wonder. He is an event that happened between my birthdays, one I can’t let go of despite our differences and distances. He lingers like a lone candle in all of our lives. Dad turned 82 last week, my turn to age arrives in just 9 minutes. I’ll be a year older by the time I’ve written the last word of this and a day older than that when I read it to you. Like a festive cake with one slice missing, there is a palpable dissonance in the air.
I could say that Sonny’s death was the most important thing, but it isn’t. Despite all of the madness with the obliteration of my family, I’ve at last found freedom, and I’ve learned that being free always comes at the cost of others. I’ve wished fervently to die before my husband, and even befpre my dad. Selfish, yes, but the thought of such loss haunts me. My brother took my wish to his grave, because now I have to hold on. I will not reach for that freedom at the cost of my father’s heart.
Lessons never cut deep enough until we’ve seen both sides of them.
The thing about confetti and clouds is that in the drifting time, they carry the best of us; our memories and our hopes. It’s the expectations that fall, and that’s okay because without expectation, it’s harder to fail. We need to cling to the mist and move forward until our moment comes to rest.
My life is a different one than just a year ago.