I sat against the hospital wall. Why...why...why… The thought swam through my head. I wished it to drown.
The noise of tragedy reached my ears and rang up and down the hallway. The white walls were bleached by ages of tears and angelic souls who breathed their last behind wooden doors. I tried to muffle the pain by inwardly screaming. I miserably failed.
My twin brother was gone. Snuffed out by leukemia. The doctors said that the treatments would work because his case wasn't “that severe” and “he’s healthy enough”. They lied. I know they lied, my parents know, and my brother knew best of all.
Dylan was smart. He was kind and beautiful. His eyes would light up when he smiled. His laughter was contagious. I am being cliche. I know that. I do not care.
I had not been completely alone. I had my boyfriend, Riley. He was there with me when Mom called me to the hospital. Riley drove me there. He held my hand as we rode the elevator up. He let go as I rushed into my dad’s arms. Riley was everything, but Riley left.
I know that he and Dylan were friends. Not close enough to share guy stuff or anything, but they had a mutual respect. I liked that. It made me feel safe and sound. Riley may have seemed brave walking with me but I know that he was dying. Dying, because now he had to run away and leave me too.
Right before I received the tearful call, Riley and I were in a heated argument. It was over stupid reasoning about something said long ago. We had dated since the 8th grade. We were juniors now. You would think that maturity would win. We loved each other. That’s what people in relationships do, right? It was supposed to last forever. Or were those high school movies whispering lies into our innocent ears? We were good. But good things end. We ended in the middle of his living room, standing on the alien green rug. The old blue clock ticked as our relationship fell into the unreachable abyss.
I lost the two most important boys in my life that day. I could wallow in self-pity. I could scream and scream. I could run away and forget the hellish day. I could. I might. I
may. But I wouldn’t.
Maybe it was my control. Perhaps I was tougher than I portrayed myself to be. At that one moment I believed in my soul and being. Then my euphoria burned into ashes. I hit the ground. I jumped into oblivion, leaving my hope behind.
One year later…
My brown hair lept into bouncy curls that framed my round face. My cheeks were flushed and my green eyes flared with joy. I pulled on my peony dress and slipped my small heels over my manicured toes.
The occasion that accompanied this entourage was Dylan’s memorial service. He had been gone a year. I still cried, but the pill bottles were fuller and my mind was clear again. I was healing.
I never realized that healing was truly a process. You hear the stories of people never recovering from devastating circumstances, but you never know until you go through it. I wasn’t sure how I was pulled out of the mire. Was it the long walks outside or the silly drawings my dad left for me on the couch. No, I think it was the inevitable relief of things not seen. The secret hand that guided me.
Riley still haunted my mind. His touch, his smile, his smell. His blond hair and hazel eyes were implanted in my brain. I missed him.
Dad yelled for Mom and I to get in the car. We were running late. I buckled in and off we went. The memorial service was being held in a local park area. It was lovely there. Silent giants of trees and rainbows of flowers scattered the green plot. It was warm when we arrived and lots of family and friends were already there.
I got out of our minivan and ran over to my aunt Sylvie. Her thin waist matched my own and she wrapped her arms around it and squeezed. Music played all around us and we swayed to it.
After a jolting song disappeared into the air, I left her to see Dylan’s friends. Ethan was his closest with Jakob coming in close second. They were decent guys with big, goofy grins. I tolerated them, but times like this called for more than toleration. I talked with them for a solid five minutes. Then I moved on to see more family.
I was walking back to Sylvie when I saw a familiar figure coming towards me. Riley. Riley. Riley. My heart did a jig and the butterflies came alive. He was here.
“Hey, Cass.” he said.
“Hey,” I answered.
“How are you doing?”
“That’s good. I was worried about you.”
“Thanks. How have you been? How’s your mom?”
“She’s good. Therapy and a lot of caffeine.”
“I miss her.”
“She misses you too. I miss you.”
I decided to take a chance. A single, living chance. A leap into oblivion, but this time I knew the hope followed me.
“Can we talk about us?” I said, hopeful.
“I was hoping you’d say that.” Riley answered.
We talked. It was not what you would expect. There were no flowery or poetic sentences. Just two humans discussing their futures and dreams. The sky is filled with possibilities. You must be the one who builds the rocket and launches it.
Riley and I are dating again. He’s going to college in our state of Texas. I’m going to follow him there. Will we stay together is the question. We may not. Or we may. Whatever happens though, I will remember the words Dylan parted with~
All the happiness that life gives is wonderful. The sadness is a side effect. You must remember this.
Riley is all my happiness, and at this moment, there are no side effects.