White was what we wore.
White dress shirts.
White was what we wore, to celebrate her instead of mourn her.
White from head to toe, with my hair drawn back away from my face I stood there with my best friends, my cousins, Jessica and Alex. I didn’t know it but they were there to keep me standing. Like the pillars of the Parthenon, they kept me from caving in. It was them standing there that kept the dark cloud of grief at bay, holding me up and refusing to let me crumble.
I stood there nodding, taking the hands of people who held them out to me, thanking them for coming and letting their compassion and sympathy for my loss roll over me. My face was neutral. I gave no sign as to what I felt because in reality, my brain was allowing the messages or signals to pass through of whether I was sad or angry, hurt, depressed, annoyed, frustrated, guilty. There was a wall up with signs that said “Keep Out!”, “Unwelcomed” and “Warning: Overwhelming Emotions May Cause System to Shutdown”. No emotions were being received and so there was no reason for me to give anyway.
The line got shorter as the pews grew fuller, each person taking their place for the ceremony until the last person slide into the only empty space left in the church. We then sat down, waiting for my mother to give the eulogy and for those who were going to follow to say their final words and goodbyes to my dead sister. The words don’t process, just like everything else, because then nor days after, even now as I rack my brain I cannot recollect the words that were said about my sister. Only a vague image of faces appear, of people that I know, of family. An image of my mother, who shed not one tear because all her tears were had been spent, dispensed into her pillow when she thought that no one could hear. Of my uncle who I never saw that often but then tragedy seems to bring those who are wandering back home. Of my coach who let everyone see the tears run down his face, made no move to cover them or wipe them, letting one tear come down and be overlapped by many more.
I only remember this moment most clearly and vividly because it was when I woke up.
Being an open casket, we all line up to say our final goodbyes. Our farewells and see-you-soons. As I get closer I look to my hands. My hands that are empty of Jessica’s who held them before. I turn my hand to look at them. The same hand that once held my sister. The same ones that had held on to her…to then let her go. The hand that had careless allowed her to leave and roam on her own in search of my mother.
Those hands that awakened me.
The hands that later knew not what to do with selves when my father pulled my drowned sister out of the pool. His hands who tried to revive her, pumping her chest and trying to breathe life into her cold body while my hand…my hand did nothing but lie on either side of me, as motionless and lifeless as the small body on the outdoor table.
Those same hands that, as I looked at them, were painted with pink nail polish, my sister’s favorite color. Or what once was her favorite color. The signals start going to my head, thoughts began to process like the memories that had been allowed in by my hands. My hands whose image had created an opening in my brain.
Would she have still liked pink once she had gotten a little older? Would she had grown out of it or would it be something that would stick with her forever? Would it become and obsession to have everything she owned in pink? Pink backpack, pink lunchbox, pink soccer ball, pink cellphone, pink car, pink walls in her apartment?
My hands, the thoughts of pink, of not knowing whether it was a phase or not because she was no longer here to continue to grow in or out of the phase.
I was awake and all the white that once surrounded me got obliterated by the shroud of darkness that came over me. My mind, my eyes, my soul was covering in black. As if my Pandora’s Box had been opened by the very same hand I was looking at and everything that had been hidden away flew out, unwilling to go back. Shame. Anger. Sadness. Guilt. Depression. Grief. Hate
I was awake and I could see the reality that was before me. My dead sister. Unmoving in her casket. She might as well not have been real for how lifeless and still she was. Her skin so pale and it was hard to look at her and not remember how I once looked at her and she had color and life within her.
I touched her, my hand to hers and I could no longer move. My hand, brown and pumping with life. Hers, pale and cold with death. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t leave her. My mouth finally opened with words. My face gave a reaction, of brokenness, of grief. My body began to respond, to cry, to feel all the pain that once didn’t register before, that ever knew I could feel.
“No..No…noo. Siara. Take me with you, don’t live me.”
Hearing my voice it wasn’t my own. It sounded like that of a lost child, of someone in disbelief, that she can’t believe her sister would leave her. Sounds of pain were coming out of my mouth as if I were really hurt.
“Natalia let go,” my godmother says. I know it’s her because she has been standing near the casket the whole time.
“Nooo, no Siara. I want to go. I want to go with my sister.”
I’m crying, I’m begging, pleading for someone to let me go with my sister, to be buried with her.
“Natalia let go, let go baby, she’s gone. Let go.”
This pain, this chaos, it was too much.
So, I let go, allowing them to guide my limp body away and let the darkness from my Pandora’s Box overtake me.