It wasn’t your idea, but you made the call.
It wasn’t your idea, but you liked it, even if you probably didn’t want to be too actively involved.
But then I involved you.
I’m not sure why.
I didn’t need you for the process.
Maybe, on some level, I thought it would be good for you. Or maybe I just didn’t want to do it alone.
I’m genuinely not sure.
But I feel guilty. And selfish.
As soon as I started, you stretched out on the floor and gratefully played with a Nintendo DSi — regifted because it is missing an apparently crucial “3” in its name.
I looked at you and chuckled.
I turned back to the monitor and watched the pictures change from one to another.
Then I got lost.
I saw your face getting older in each folder.
Different favourite singer.
And I saw her.
The reason why we were there.
As they always do.
As they did the last time I was sitting at that computer, gathering the photos for the funeral director to use in a slideshow that unfairly never ended.
As they did when I had to stand in the back of a church packed to the point of bulging at the beautifully gilded seams.
When I see a picture where she wears an expression we frequently see on your face, I glance over at you. You’ve grown a foot since last she saw you.
I turn back to the computer before I start thinking about everything else she’s missed.
Would you two have hit the point yet where you butt heads?
Most people would guess yes.
Both of you being so strong-willed.
But there is a softness to it.
And you shared it.
And you shared a temperament.
And you shared quirks.
And you shared a personality.
And you shared chairs. Frequently.
I miss seeing that.
I know you miss it more.
But would she have had to be more mother than friend these days?
Are your shorts too short?
Your shirts too skimpy?
When would lines be drawn?
When would circles be closed?
You guys would have figured it out.
She’d always have your back.
That’s what breaks my heart the most, you know?
I’ve seen your strength.
I’m still in awe.
But it’s not fucking fair.
You handled it with grace.
None of us knew it would be the hardest punch in a year of absolute body shots for our family.
You were amazing.
We were all so proud.
We still are.
I look back at the floor where you’d been stretched out.
You’re gone to the beach now.
Playing in the ocean.
Making people laugh.