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And when I woke dear, I was mistaken – Zoe

May 17, 2011

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

You make me happy, when skies are  grey

And you don’t know dear, how much I love you

So please don’t take my sunshine away


I can’t imagine dealing with actual death.

A few days ago, I came home to see my brother and mom reading a facebook page. Curious, I walked over. It was the facebook page of a guy I sort of kind of knew from Tae Kwon Do. The posts were all from friends talking about how much they missed him. I was confused for a second. Then I realized: He had died.

I didn’t really know him. I hadn’t seen him at all  for a few years, and even before that we never talked. I knew enough to recognize his name,  face, and that’s more or less it. He was only 20, and the death was so sudden, and it hurt. And reading his wall, looking at all these people that were using a construct of him, his name and bunch of photos and talking to it. Trying to say things they didn’t say before he died and left a space.

I don’t know what goes with that. I can’t imagine having to deal with that.

I mean, I’ve done death. My grandma died last summer. But while it was sad, it was liveable. There had been enough build-up that things had started growing in around the space she used to take up.

And then, sometimes I look at my sister. She’s amazing. She’s one of those people that just seems to be a little extra bright. She can run around, sing Disney princess songs, and know exactly what to do and say to make you feel better. She can write these amazingly deep things, and explain, and she’s just…she’s a sun. Some people are planets, and some people are suns, and Katie is one of the suns who draws people into her orbit and gives them light.

Sometimes I look at her, and I think: In another universe, she could not be here right now. I would have a room filled with me and an empty bunk, and spend nights wishing there was someone in it.

She wouldn’t be there  to dance around the house and sing trashy songs with and braid my hair. No one who just knows when something’s wrong, and just knows exactly what to say to make things better.

If she wasn’t here, I don’t know what I would do. And sometimes, I think about it and it’s all I can do not to cry.

My sister nearly died. She spent nearly two years forcing herself closer and closer, and I watched it, and I thought it was my fault, and she was so close.

How is it possible to deal with that?

Because I know that at one point, I knew it. I remember being terrified when I wasn’t with her, that maybe it would happen while I was gone. I remember panicking if I didn’t know where she was. I was very much aware that her life was in question, all the time.

But I was young. 11. And when she was no longer in immediate danger, I just…forgot. I had no capacity to deal with death, real or theoretical, so I pretended it didn’t happen. Then, a few years later, that time came up in conversation. Suicidal. It hit me lie a brick, and I looked at it. I looked a place which had a Katie-sized hole in it, one less sun. And then I decided I still couldn’t deal with it, so I made myself forget again.  And again. And again.

Because  sometimes I look back, and I realize: I nearly died.

I was so close.

If things hadn’t changed, I would be dead. Katie would be the one living with an empty bed.

And god, I wanted to die. So, so much. And I wasn’t afraid of dying, because I thought it would be beautiful. I was afraid of leaving an empty space, because for some unexplainable reason people had gotten attached to me.

And I don’t think I would have known how to be afraid if Katie hadn’t shown me.

I hate it, because in no way is my sister nearly dying ever going to be okay. But I think it might have kinda sorta saved my life. And I guess I’m glad, in a way, because now I look at life and I want it. I think about losing it, and I just come up with a blank wall. I remember thinking the words, I remember thinking about my feelings, but I can’t recall what it actually felt like.

So. Anyways. I’ve looked at theoretical death. Almost death. Wannabe death. And I didn’t deal with it, I crumbled.

I can’t imagine dealing with actual death.

I can’t imagine dealing with actual pain.

I’m barely dealing with what I have, and I know I have nothing on lots of  people.

I live in a reasonably sized house, with a reasonable income. I have two happily married parents, who are incredibly supportive. I get good grades in school. I go to school. I’ve got a lovely group of friends, I don’t get bullied, I laugh. By all accounts, I have a good life. Great, even. So what’s with the constant angst? It just goes on and on and on and on…

A few weeks ago, I was visiting my older brother in Victoria. While going for a walk with my younger brother, we saw one of our favorite things: Darth Vader playing the violin. He’s been on that corner of the sidewalk  for quite a while, I think. And he’s awesome. His music is pretty good, but just–Darth Vader. It makes me so happy, year after year. So, when we passed him, I dug a few twoonies out of my pocket and motioned for my brother to drop them in the case.

The man was wearing a mask, obviously, so we couldn’t see his face. But his voice, when he offered to take a picture with Jamie, was overjoyed. As we thanked him and left, he mentioned that the $4 had made his day.

4 dollars made his day. I had finished walking around the museum, and buying a gift for a friend that cost 5 times that amount. I was about to go to the old spaghetti factory, and eat a meal with a big group of people that would cost 50 times that. I wasn’t even looking forward to dinner. I wasn’t hungry.

Here’s the thing: Homelessness is one of those things that just pisses me off. You look at the Olympic village, you look at apartments selling for a million plus dollars, and what excuse do we possibly have for others going to bed in a park, using newspaper for a blanket?

As people walking by, we have a few seconds of discomfort while we avoid eye contact. Maybe a self-satisfied glow if we go through our pockets and find some spare change. But then we keep on going to where ever we were headed, and it’s over. The people on the sidewalk don’t get to leave that easily. All the years I had seen Darth-Vader-with-a-violin, I had thought of him for a few happy moments. Then I got distracted. Meanwhile, he was living on the streets, and praying every day that someone would give him 4 dollars.

I try to understand. I try to understand pain and grief and everything that goes along with this, but I can’t. I want to understand, because….because. I can’t rant and rave properly if I can’t understand. I can’t know the best way to fix things if I don’t understand, but I can’t even understand the pain of one person, let alone thousands or millions. I can’t handle the pain of almost losing someone. Even if I could understand, would I be capable of handling it and still being the same person? A person at all?

Is anyone, really? Do people deal, or do we all have emotional walls?

Are there things that are too big too feel?

The other night, dear, As I lay sleeping

I dreamed I held you in my arms.

When I awoke, dear, I was mistaken

And I hung my head and cried.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

You make me happy, when skies are grey

And you don’t know dear, how much I love you

So please don’t take my sunshine away

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