The things you carried: Batman sunglasses, a Pokemon lunchbox, a handful of Legos, and a broken fidget spinner that you refused to throw away. A note passed to you on your last day of school, “Get better soon, we miss you.”
The sun is up. I look down at the pad in my hand and review the list of names. I go over the speech again in my head. “Hi. I have some bad news. He’s gone. Last night. No pain. No, I don’t need anything. I have more calls to make. Goodbye.” Stick to the script,and I’ll get through it. I got through it. I showered out of necessity,but I did not have the energy.
Down the hall, up the staircase, one foot in front of the other I climbed. The house was still dark, it was the day after,and still,it felt as if nothing had changed. I walked into your room. The scent of you still lingered in the air; you could have just passed by me. I imagine you, rushing around forever late, grabbing shoes, going back again for a jacket, then again for your lunch. The routine of mundane experiences left now to history prayed for now.
The things you left behind: an empty bed, a dog that sits at the top of the stairs at 3 o’clock waiting for a master that will never come home. A crate of Legos, slowly gathering dust. Three green crayons, broken from overuse. Your presents, unopened from under the tree and me.
My notepad sits on the kitchen counter. Milk, shampoo, toothpaste, hamburger buns, peanut butter, and Pokemon cards, added by you. The shopping list for a trip I never got to make. I tore it off and put it in my pocket. Then I wrote shoes, size 12 to the list. The last list of things you’ll ever need. Black suit size 8. I would need a dress. I thought about wearing a hat, wrote it down with a question mark and then scribbled it out again. I wrote down flowers and a reminder to get the certificate like you accomplished something by dying. All you accomplished was breaking my heart.
I walked past your room again. I never noticed how much stuff you had until I had to pack it all up. I made a mental note to get boxes but not today. I sit on the bed careful not to disturb anything. I stare at nothing until my eyes are so heavy that holding them open becomes a chore I am unable to bear. I startle awake to a sound I think I hear, but the house is silent.
The things you took with you: one gold and white Pokemon card and a letter I wrote the night you died. There are cards from your friends some still damp with tiny tears. A bright red Hot Wheels sports car that your best friend Sam would never let you play with until now. Half of the baby blanket I took from you before you were ready to part with it and me.
Michelle E. Matthews is a George Washington University and Yale Writer’s Conference Alum. She is currently working on completing her M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Her essays have been featured online via Huffington Post, Mamapedia, Scary Mommy, and The Mighty. You can also find her on Amazon in two anthologies, Motherhood: May Cause Drowsiness and Surviving Mental Illness Through Humor. Michelle resides in Northern Virginia with her family.
Image courtesy of Iker Urtega via unsplash