Saturday, October 19, 2013

Same As It Ever Was

It takes a long time to get to know a person.  It kills me that my nieces and nephews and sisters and my brother know my parents better than I do.  My dad’s sister knows him better than I ever will, and my siblings know our cousins better too.
Yet I remain a favorite, the curse of the far-youngest child.  My sister loses an entire eye to cancer and still voices to me on the phone: “But Katie, everything is worse when it happens to you.”  My brother tells me for the jillionth time that I have to get over everything.
You always think you’re special until somebody close to you dies.  The loss makes you grab your face.  You want to see it coming, but obviously you see it too late. Every death is different.
You wonder if the dead people want their stories told.  Weren’t they grabbing for attention earlier?  Is your attention now misdirected or selfish?  What were they expecting from you?
I have a nice friend from high school who was a popular cheerleader with long layered chestnut hair that I would covet from the seat behind her at assembly, where I sat because her last name started with a C and mine started with an M.  I looked at that beautiful hair for three years.  I looked at the happiness she was, plus I loved her older brother, like we all did.  
At that time, we had not yet been schooled in the agenda of loss.  I’m sure that most of us hadn’t seen a funeral, yet there we all were, dressed in black, when my nice cheerleader friend with the chestnut hair survived the crash that reduced our graduating class from 187 to 186.  We went to visit her in the hospital.  We had quiet graduation parties at picnic tables, sometimes with beer if the parents allowed it.
My chestnut-haired girl has no memory of this.  There are nice things about a coma.
You always want to tell a good story.  Hands be tied and eyes blinded, you feel like you have to deliver.    

Somebody asks or indicates that you should be the storyteller.

Do you have any Indian in you?  some people ask.

I’ve had a little bit, you joke.
You remember the night when you happened to be out on a date with a guy from the Catholic school, and you in all your wisdom invited him to the keg party of your school.  It was the last time you would see the girl with curly blond curls, this taller girl with green-blue eyes, the one you photographed last week as “Best Looking” for the yearbook.  She is not serious this night; she is lovely.  
You don’t know what you will miss.
Your date drives you home but you are stopped on Montmorenci by the police cars and lights.  Parents are coming down the hill, shouting for their children.   Your parents don’t want it to be you.  Nobody knows who it happened to.
There is nothing bad that happens to people, unless it goes unnoticed.

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