I remember every part of me hurt.
It hurt to see her pictures. It hurt to smell the faintest note of her hairspray. It hurt to hear my dad crying on the couch—killed, actually. There wasn’t a bone in my body that didn’t ache. My heart began to weigh with such a heaviness, I wasn’t sure anything could rehabilitate me.
I have no idea how many days had come and gone. The sun and moon felt obsolete to me. The only thing I was aware of were the stages of grief my mind raced through. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance; a cycle that was consistently reanimated ever few hours.
I don’t know how my dad did it, how anyone did it—that grieving process. The feeling of absolute loss that makes you uncertain you can come back from. I remember a weekday rolled around eventually because my dad went back to work, despite the fact that his heart was still broken. He must have been grieving far longer than I was; I didn’t have the strength quite yet to see the outside world.
I couldn’t, for the life of me, understand what happened. I lived among the evidence, but nothing made sense. I couldn’t figure out how she could leave. Maybe she thought I would be okay without her; better off, even. Or maybe she assumed I was old enough to handle it now.
But age doesn’t prepare you for abandonment, not even life can prepare you for that. Nothing braces you for that kind of hurt. That deliberate desertion that can destroy you from the inside out. I sat with her letter for days on end. Occasionally, after bouts of sleep, I would convince myself it was all a dream. I would wake up and scan the paper, maniacally searching for proof that none of this was real. I was left with the same sentence every time:
I need to leave, Janie. I’m sorry.
She was gone, and I remember that every part of me hurt.
Author’s Note: this is one of the first fiction pieces I started writing back in college. I have slowly developed more parts to it, so if you would like to know more about Janie’s story, please leave a comment and I will add them as I finish it!