Its been a year. a whole solid year since i was awakened at 1am on Christmas Morning to my sisters sobbing voice,
“zach… Ben died” she cried.
I remember rubbing my eyes tying to bring my brain to some sense of reality, perhaps i was dreaming… no she was really on the phone.. and Ben was really dead.
“When did it happen? i asked, my vocal cords still not working properly after such a deep sleep.
“about an hour ago, he just passed on..” the tears evident in my sisters voice caused a rupture of my emotions as I held back a breath.
“okay… i’m too tired to drive right now.. i’ll come down there later this morning okay?” I managed to let escape from my throat.
We said our good byes and our i love you’s and i hung up the phone letting the breath i had held escape from my lips.
The ceiling seemed so far away as the tears rolled slowly from my eyes. down my cheek to to my lips where i could taste thier saltiness. Ben was dead.. and now i had to go back to a place where i was oppressed and shunned to mourn the death of my brother.
The steering wheel felt cold and hard in my hands, unfeeling and without emotion. The road laid out before me, it couldnt feel the pain surging through my entire body as i counted off the miles 60….
the way stretched out in front as though I had never traveled before, the other cars that passed me, full of holiday travelers going to see relatives, each wrapped up in the minute details of the season, wondering about lunch, playing with toys, arguing politics…
I pulled into the drive way of my parents house, my sister standing in the front yard. She wrapped her arms around me and pressed her face into my neck, letting the tears go. I stroked her blonde hair and assured her that everything was okay. I hadnt seen her in almost 2 years and to meet again now under these circumstances.. My father walked up to me, his eyes red from crying, hugged me. the lingering look of dissapointment still in his eyes. I was the failed son, who one who had chosen to stray from the ‘right’ path. but for right now, we were father and son, holding each other and mourning our own flesh. I’m taller than my father now…
My mother stayed in her room, refusing to come out to evan talk or see me.
I understood how much pain she must be going through.. the feeling of losing a family… was one i was familiar with.
My Aunt and my Granny toiled away in the kitchen, cooking anything they could find, filling the house with sweet aromas and preparing for a christmas feast that somehow wouldnt seem quite complete this year. We ate in silence with some awkward laughter here and there.. one of our own wasnt with us anymore… and we all knew it.
Its a year later now. its christmas eve, the tree is decorated and the guests have arrived, but my thoughts stray to Ben. If there is an afterlife, another dimension or just a little peice of heaven waiting for him.. i hope he’s looking at me now and saying the same thing i’m thinking.. i miss you.
If you’ve lost someone around the holiday’s it can be a heart rending time, know that i wish you peace in these holy days, whatever you celebrate, remember your loved ones who have gone, and cherish the loved ones you still have.