“Why do you count how many days it’s been since your cousin killed himself?” my friend asked.
“I don’t know,” I told her. “It’s not that it helps..me feel better..because it doesn’t. But I think it helps..me process..what has happened.”
And it does. In 10 days, it will have been two years since you jumped in front of the train, and that doesn’t make sense to me. Two years already? When I say that, it’s as if the time passed quickly, as if I wasn’t even aware of it going by, as if nothing of consequence had even happened. There’s no way I could have survived two years without you, so maybe it didn’t really happen.
It hasn’t been two years, though. It’s been 720 days. Seven hundred and twenty days of waking up, knowing that you won’t be here anymore. Seven hundred and twenty days of “just getting through the day”, which I suppose is how I’ve managed to make it this far.
I have so many memories of you flooding into me. At first, all I could remember was the time around your first attempt and final success. Now, I remember my life with you. I see the dips of the roller coaster at the state fair, taste the snow cone I ate while you complained of a stomach-ache. I remember screaming with you in your brother’s room, after finding a millipede crawling on his bed. I remember laughing, always laughing, about stupid stories we’d make up together and jokes we’d tell. The boredom we’d feel watching older cousins playing video games, but the closeness there would be cocooning us all, even when we fought (which we did a lot). I remember showing you how the snow on your front lawn was hard enough to support us, and slick enough to slide around on, like we were “ice skating.” And I remember falling, after finding a particularly slick patch of snow, and landing painfully on my wrist. I got up and ran back into your house, and you came puffing after me.
“Kia, don’t do that,” you told me, seriously, after catching your breath. “You can’t just run away like that if something happens, or if you’re hurt. Especially without saying anything to me. You made me really worried.”
But now you have run away, permanently, without saying anything to me, and I can’t understand it. I can’t. The only thing I can process is that it has been 720 days without you. I don’t know how long the counting will help. It’s possible, probable, that this will all backfire someday. Maybe I’ll hit 5,000 and want to stop counting. Maybe I’ll hit 10,000 and convince myself that enough days have passed and I’ve earned my time to rest, and be with you again. I suppose I’ll deal with that when I get there.
For now, though, I’ll be counting until I find a better way of understanding. It’s been 720 days, and it will be the rest of my life.