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Laying there on the sofa with Emily, it did not occur to me that Jennifer would be home soon. The fact that she would have already picked Hunter up from preschool and been on her way home as I lay naked next to another woman did not cross my mind. Emily was the only thing in that moment, and the feelings of familiarity that were rushing over me preventing rationality from playing a part in what we had done. I was not thinking about my marriage, or my son, or the life I had built out of the ashes of Emily’s exit from my life and from my plans. I was holding the only woman I had ever loved, and it felt so right. It felt like fate and I whispered in her ear with out thinking of the circumstances which amounted to complete wrongness.

“I love you,” it felt so honest and freeing to say it after all this time of pretending, of forced contentedness in a situation that I had no control over. I was not prepared for her break down, but I wish that I could have been.

Love is a heavy thing, and it was mine to hold, I wish I had not dropped the full weight of it on her in a moment when she was so vulnerable. She had spent the last year of her life breaking herself down because of you. She had hallowed herself out and torn herself down, convinced herself that there was no life after you. There was not enough left of her to hold up the words I had dropped on her so selfishly. Of course it had felt right for me to say it, but I gave no consideration to the feeling of receiving it.

She collapsed on the floor and I stood over her. My complete focus was on her. Even as Jennifer stood in the doorway, all that was on my mind was Emily. My wife and my son were incidental in that time and space. The love of my life was laying on the floor, her ruination now complete by the words that had rolled off my tongue so effortlessly.

I did not go after Jennifer as she turned and left the room. I did not think about my son who was playing in his bedroom oblivious to the blow that I had dealt to his family. Instead, I knelt next to the woman that I had loved, the woman around who my happiness circled. I listened to the words she was saying, she was calling for you, but I wanted so badly to believe that I could heal her, that I could save her. I wanted to be her hero and to fix all that he had done, to patch up the hole you had left for her to fall into. I believed that I could be that for her, her rescuer.

The truth of it is that she only wanted you. She needed you. She had built a life of love and promises on you the same way I had built my life on her. You ripped that out from under her. You presented yourself to her as a place for her to rest, a place for her let her guard down and to come to for solace. She let you be all of that for her and you yanked it right out from under her. You were supposed to be solid for her. You were supposed to be there. You were the one she had chosen to give her all the things she dreamed for her life. You were the one she had chosen to stand beside her. She had given herself to you and you took it with a grain of salt. You broke it. You broke her.

I’ve heard that you can’t be angry at the dead. I’ve heard that once something ends the memory of it become bitter sweet. Remembering you, my baby sister, is not like that for me. Remembering you is antagonizing in its sheer bitterness, and my anger toward you. I will never forgive you, and the ramifications of your life still resonate here even after you are gone. Do you even understand what it is you have caused? Are you somewhere looking down at the shambles you have left in the wake of your unending selfishness? Can you see us all here, the people who surrounded you and loved you and held you when you cried? Can you see the state you have left us in? Do you care? Of course you don’t care. You never gave a damn about anyone but yourself. You had everything going for you, you always did, and yet it was never enough for you. You took and took with unquenchable thirst. You never gave anything in return, you just kept on taking and we kept on giving.

Do you know what it’s like to hate the dead? Do you understand the guilt that I carry with me everyday because of the way you have left me to feel? There is no resolution for this. All our lives we grew up next to each other, we stood by each other through thick and through thin we had blood and that meant something. Even in our squaller we would inevitably come together, me and my baby sister. We would fight and fight, to the point where mom would be standing on the edge of a nervous breakdown, but at the end of the day we were always there for each other. We always made up and resolved our differences. This is a fight. We are fighting now, the difference is that there is no resolution here. We will never come together again. We will never be given the opportunity to forgive each other, and that is what I must carry with me for the rest of my life. I am hampered by the irreversability of this fight, and the injustice in it for all of us. You are not here with us anymore. Is there someone to blame for that? It’s so much easier just to blame you, but the guilt of the certainty of your faults is crushing.

I want to remember the sister who’s room was next to mine. I want to remember the times you would play your music so loudly I could not concentrate. I want to remember banging on the wall and screaming for you to turn that crap down. I want to remember the inevitable fighting that would follow.

“Gee Tom. It’s too bad you don’t know good music when you hear it.”

“Yeah right. Good music? You’re going to make us all go deaf!” I had screamed at you.

“Deaf? At least you’d go deaf listening to something good for a change. You should be thanking me. Besides, I hear your music all the time and I don’t complain. So if I want to play my music loudly this one time, you can suck it!”

“You’re so rude. You’re such a little brat. ‘Suck it’? Who says that? No-one is ever going to want you with an attitude like that!”

You started to cry. You always pretended not to be sensitive, but you were always the first to break down. I didn’t realize that you carried all of it with you. I didn’t know that every word, every slight, every sideways glance built up inside of you, and that you held it there, inside you as if the insults were a part of you. You could just be so frustrating, and it was just so easy to be angry with you. I never understood the quick escalation of our arguments from petty brother to sister tiffs to full blown war raging between us. Now I do, and in your absence, part of me wishes that I could go back. Maybe if I had the maturity of adulthood, and the clarity of removal from the situation that I have now, maybe then I would have been better for you. Maybe all of us just let you down, and the ashes we stand among now are our own doing.

The thing is that none of us have the answers, and we never will. Your life has become a movie, like the ones that they make you watch in drivers education. You watch the video. You see the beginning and the end. The end comes so quickly that you miss the things in between and their relevance. Then a teacher slows it down, guides you through the video step by step and pauses at all the mistakes. You see what went wrong, and you brainstorm other possibilities, other options like a choose your own adventure novel. You come to a crossroads where a decision must be made, where action must be taken. Life should be slowed down like that. The simple fact is that it is not, and going over and over the details of your existence is what we have left even though there is no chance of you coming back.


* * *


I knelt beside Emily waiting for my head to clear. I could not touch her. Everything had been spinning so quickly and now it was finally slowing down, coming into focus. I loved Emily, and my concern in that moment was for her, but I knew that my future was with Jennifer. I knew that Emily would never fit back into my life the way she once had. She didn’t want me. She loved you and you ruined her. You broke her.

Until your death, I was not aware that some things could not be undone. Somethings are not fixable or undo-able. Somethings are forever and don’t go away. The brokenness that you had left behind in Emily was one of those things. It was forever. It broke my heart to see her this way, but when things can’t be fixed you have to move on. This is life, and I still had mine. I still had my wife and my son, and everything that I had spent copious amounts of my time working toward. I had all of that and in order to keep that I knew I had to let Emily go.

Her eyes opened. “Tom? Where is she?”

I lifted her onto the couch and covered her with the blanket that had been around my waist. “She’s dead Emily. You need some rest now. Close your eyes.” I left her like that on the couch and went to find my wife.


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