Sometimes I forget it’s gone. When your arm has been a part of you for 19 years and then one day it’s gone, you just forget. I’ve gone to reach for something and lost my balance when my hand doesn’t touch anything. This doesn’t bother me, though; I lost more than that a couple of years ago. My soul was torn in half and I’ve never recovered. I was a twin – you might think with one of us being a boy and the other a girl, we wouldn’t be close but it’s not true. We were always the other’s biggest fan. We even looked a lot alike with our jet-black hair and pale skin. The one big difference was our eyes, mine are green and his were blue.
Four months shy of graduation, tragedy forever altered our family. Ian was on the soccer team at school and was offered a full ride to the University of Tennessee. I was having an audition to get into Julliard. Ian had never missed any of my performances and he was determined to not miss the biggest moment of my life. He had a soccer game earlier in the day and was going to have to rush to get to the audition. All I could focus on while I should have been dancing was the empty chair next to my parents. He never showed and I just knew something was wrong.
We went straight home and the cops were waiting for us. I never got out of the car, I just sat there watching as the officer told them they had lost their only son. My little sister, Brianna, had to help my dad get Mom in the house and still I just sat there. I remember one of the cops coming to the car once and trying to talk to me but I just ignored him. Ian’s best friend, Conner, showed up sometime after dark. He looked over at me for a minute then went inside. Sometime later, he came back out and got in the car with me. I know he talked to me and tried to get me to come inside but still I didn’t move. Eventually, he gave up and carried me to my room. I buried my face in his neck and never looked at anyone. I could hear my family crying but I couldn’t go to them. I don’t know when I slept or how long I slept for. At one point or another, everyone came in and laid down with me. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t cry, I just listened to them for a while and eventually they would leave.
My boyfriend, Shawn, showed up and begged me to come out or to at least eat. I watched my mom pick out my dress for the funeral and I wanted to talk to her, I did, but nothing would come out. Conner came back and sat next to me and just rubbed my back. He didn’t say anything, he didn’t cry, we just stayed like that for a long time till he must have gotten fed up. He picked me up again and carried me out to the picnic table in our backyard. At first, we didn’t do anything, just stared at each other. He didn’t break eye contact when he started eating a sandwich.
“You have to eat, you don’t have to talk or see anyone, but you have to finish this food.”
Hunger was starting to get to me but I wasn’t quite ready to do something so normal when everything was so wrong.
“Have you cried yet?” I watch his whole body freeze up and I can tell it’s hard for him to swallow, but he manages to get the last bite down. I didn’t think he was going to answer at first; he just sat there staring up at Ian’s bedroom window.
“No, I think I’m scared to. If I give in and cry, I’m accepting he’s gone and I’m just not ready for that yet. I’m guessing you haven’t either?”
I just shake my head. He must realize that I’m not ready to talk because he slides the plate toward me and sits back, waiting. He answered me honestly so I have to do what he asked. I eat, I don’t taste it but I get it all down.
I hear someone come up behind us and see it’s Shawn; he’s never really gotten along with Conner so I’m not surprised to see he doesn’t look happy.
“Thanks for getting her some food but I’ll take care of her from here.”
I have no interest in their drama so I am relieved when Conner just nods his head at him. He stands up, kisses me on top of the head and leaves.
I can’t explain it but I actually feel colder after he leaves. For a few minutes I was starting to feel okay but now that feeling is gone again.
“Hey, babe, I’m glad to see you are getting some fresh air.
Why don’t we go for a drive and just get lost for a little while?”
“Thanks for the offer but I think it’s time I talk to my family.
I’ll call you later.”
The closer I get to the house, the slower my steps become and all I can feel is dread. Facing them means it’s real, I can’t deny it anymore. I walk in the kitchen and see my dad leaning against the counter and my mom and sister sitting at the table. They are discussing when my grandparents and the rest of the family will be flying in. I stand in the doorway, not sure what to say and everyone stops talking to look at me. My dad just opens his arms and says, “Come here, baby,” and that’s all it takes. I run to him and start sobbing. My mom comes up behind me, stroking my hair while she has her arm around my sister. We all sit there crying for a while. When we finally calm down and get ourselves back under control, I feel a little better, less lonely.