Alex and I are on the way home from a day on the river. We’ve spent four and a half hours with family, having a great time. Swimming, floating, not realizing that my Aunt’s tube keeps losing air because it lost a patch.
We’re on our way home and she’s crying. She’s so, so upset.
“I just feel like if it was me that died, no one would be sad. They would expect it. If I died, no one would get tattoos of my name. People wouldn’t be upset. Because I was supposed to die” She tells me this and my heart breaks. I try not to cry and reassure her that without a doubt, any death would have the same aftermath. There is no winner in this race.
Earlier today she went shopping with me to prep for the trip (Cherries: the ultimate river food). She’d mentioned that it gets hot working in a jacket in the summer time, but she doesn’t like wearing short sleeves. People stare at her arms.
Her arms and deeply pitted and scared, the remainder of years of self-harm stemming from mental illness that we all fought long and hard to control.
This summer, she has tried so, so hard. She has been involved and engaged with the rest of our extended family. She’s sat in the lake with the adults and played games with the kids up north. She didn’t remove herself from our group chat when we made plans. She has let us love her the way she needs to be loved. The way she should be loved.
She is putting herself out into the world and, when she does, my heart soars with happiness. It has been a long and rocky road for her to get where she is. She’s shedding her black sheep and letting us bring her into our fold.
We’re on our way home from a great day and she’s crying because she will always believe that Z’s death was a tragedy and, should she ever die inappropriately young, it wouldn’t matter.
The truth of the situation is that Alex has always felt second to her sister. In her mind, she has always lived in the shadow of Z’s out-sized life. And she can not escape that shadow. Even in death.
As we move forward, there will always be parts of her that can’t let go of the silent tragedy – the part where Alex lives while it was Z that died and not the other way around.
My baby is in pieces again. I can’t put anyone back together.
0 stars. Would not recommend.