Based on a writing prompt from Writing Adventures
(That being said, this one hits close to home. So I felt compelled to write.)
I remember the call so clearly. It all happened so quickly, over in a blink. The phone began to ring and I already knew. I knew what I would hear. In that moment, it feels like you have a choice to not answer that call, to somehow prevent yourself from knowing.
But there is no choice. There never was.
I remember walking through her room. There was the bed she had been sequestered to in her final days, the bed that became her final resting place. All around were remnants of memories of those times we had shared: the bric-a-brac of children, so precious; each piece held its own cherished memory.
But without her it was all meaningless.
I remember how hard I tried not to look at her the day she was put to rest. I had a job to do: set up the room, make sure that all of her short life’s work was on display for those who would come to see and say good-bye. I had to finish; she deserved so much more.
But I had to look.
I remember how cold the flesh of her exposed face and hands beneath my own felt. Not real. Plastic. Yet…the doll held her face. Her eyes, closed forever; her lips still curled into a semblance of a smile. Once I looked, I could not leave. I did not want to leave. I wished, I hoped, I prayed (perhaps for the last time) I could crawl in beside her and that somehow it would all change.
But it didn’t. It couldn’t. I had to leave.
I was eighteen; she was a month away from nineteen. And even then, I knew with all my heart that if I had been given the choice, she never would have been left to burn in that coffin. Without hesitation or doubt, I would have taken her place. To this day, I believe that.
Instead, I live and she has become a memory. My memory. The thing that fills the empty void left in my heart that morning I received the call. The day my best friend, my anam cara, left this world.
All I can do is hope my life is worthy of that memory.