That isn’t funny to you yet, or if it is, it’s for reasons other than mine.
It’s weird to me, the idea that certain days are remembered for certain things. Or maybe not that you remember things on certain days, because once a date is imprinted on your mind it tends to stay there, but that these days of memories supposedly become significant. Birthdays, holidays, death days, each date is marked off and when you reach it, it’s supposed to be meaningful somehow. You’re supposed to feel differently on this date than you would on any other day, despite the fact that it is just any other day to anyone else. But at this point, I’m tired of grieving when I’m supposed to grieve, or being happy when a calendar tells me to. So I sit here feeling nothing but fatigue, until I remember to feel guilty, and am confused. I realize that at this time last year, and even more so the year before, Sunday would have been a date of grief and fear. All I can do now is recognize that it was on this day, 2011, that my life was completely turned around.
I hate phones. I’m afraid of messages, and until I answer, I’m also afraid of calls. I realize that it’s selfish not to respond to people right away, and that a lot of the time I end up an inadvertent asshole for leaving my phone somewhere and then (legitimately) forgetting to respond to people, but I can’t help it. I hate phones.
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The phone was ringing, and my dad and I were having a standoff.
“It’s Aunty,” I told him, reading the caller ID. He didn’t move, only looking at me expectantly. Since neither one of us was willing to admit we didn’t want to talk to her, and since I’d blown my own spot by walking over to the phone, I was forced to pick it up.
“Hiiiiii Ki,” she said, as I’d expected. I was also expecting a long session in which she would tell me about her son’s various conditions, a problem at work, or any other thing on the laundry list of hard luck that her family deals with. I love them dearly, and worry about them occasionally, but my aunt has a habit of calling whenever I’m content, and then making me feel bad without even trying. You can’t just go back to enjoying your chicken leg, or slice of pie, or whatever wonderful thing you were just taking part in without feeling like a shitty person, so because I know that she’s never calling to speak to me I’ve taken to yelling to my mother every time her name flashes on the screen, and then continuing with whatever I’m doing (my mom has good timing, and will fill me in on things later).
This time, the call was oddly short.
“Is your mother there?” she wanted to know. My mother was not home; otherwise she’d have already been on the phone.
“Can I take a message for her?” I asked.
“Oh, oh. How soon will she be back?” my aunt pressed. She sounded tense.
“Probably in about half an hour to forty minutes,” I told her. “Would you like me to tell her to call you?”
“No. No, no, I’ll call back later,” she said. “Goodbye, Ki.” That was it.
My mom came back with Boston Market. It was a wonderful day. I was thoroughly enjoying my chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, and corn bread when the phone rang again. It was my aunt, but this time only my mom had to talk to her. And talk to her. And talk to her. Everybody had finished dinner by the time she came back to the table. We had a South African cousin staying in the house, and my mom waited for him to go to his room upstairs before asking my dad and me to stay at the table for a minute.
On second thought, it’s really hard to write about this like a story. I’ve disconnected myself from the emotions of when it happened, which is almost funny, because at the time I was too numb to feel anything anyway. If you haven’t guessed already, this was when we first found out that Edward was suicidal. The aunt that called wasn’t his mom, because his mother was having a breakdown in the mental hospital where he was being held. He’d been at rehab for an eating disorder, and fortunately they’d found his note in time.
Looking back, I wish they’d kept it. I have no idea where that note is, or what was in it. It’s pretty ridiculous, seeing as how when he actually did kill himself, everyone turned to ask me why he must’ve done it. Y’all had the note. Y’all Also got goodbye texts. But at the time, I wasn’t thinking about this. I was thinking about how I’d been talking about suicide earlier that day, telling a friend that I had a cousin who by all accounts would be depressed enough to try suicide, but was too strong to do it. I was praising him for being my emotional and psychological foundation, as he was crumbling.
You know how in Wylie Coyote cartoons, he’ll sometimes be standing on the edge of a cliff that suddenly tumbles away? He’s left for a second in the air, looking around and down as if to question what’s happening. It doesn’t quite process, and then he’s falling, still confused as to what happened.
That was me. I sat there with my parents looking at me, my mom asking me to reach out to him. Reach out to whom? Reach out with what? What? I think they were waiting for me to cry, which I was not going to do. It wasn’t even out of spite. I just can’t process things with people staring me down, and nothing was making sense. I couldn’t see anything, and I didn’t cry until the next day in the school hallway, as I was walking to chem.
That started my 13 months of ghostliness, my thirteen months of terror and paranoia and breathlessness. I don’t know if at this point I would prefer that he’d succeeded the first time. I don’t know if it’s better that he took away my foundation, gave me hope, and then extinguished it. I got to see him two more times, two more glorious times. I got to meet his boyfriend, a boyfriend he would not have had if he’d succeeded, a boyfriend he would not have left behind if he’d succeeded. I honestly don’t know what I’d prefer, but I do know that it doesn’t matter. On February 16, 2011, my cousin attempted suicide, and it was the scariest thing I’d yet dealt with. You don’t just go on from a traumatic event. It traumatizes you, and things usually only get worse after that. But I don’t like reliving traumas, and have numbed myself to the dates. I didn’t spend Sunday tearing my hair or crying; I just spent it knowing. Always, at the back of my mind, knowing, and not being sure what to do with my knowledge.
I think that’s what I’ve done with all holidays and events now. In numbing myself to memories of Edward, I’ve accidentally numbed myself to the rest of the calendar’s Special Days. Christmas reminds me of him (we used to hide together) so Christmas can’t be marked. New Year’s is a chance to look back on whatever progress (or lack of progress) I’ve made without him. My birthday, while nice, will never be the same. It’s too soon after his Death Day, and celebrating the fact that I’m still alive, without him, seems twisted. I don’t know what I’ll do on his Death Day this year, or the day that I thought I would have to die to be with him, but last year they came and passed. The days don’t matter. It’s the thoughts, feelings and reflections that surround them that matter.
So there you go. I guess that I hate phones and calendars now. I deal with phones by leaving them alone, and I deal with calendars by trying to make them meaningless.