Everyone has always said I look like Bailey, but I don't.I have grey eyes to her green,an oval face to her heart-shaped one,I'm shorter, scrawnier, paler, flatter, plainer, tamer.All we shared is a madhouse of curlsthat I imprison in a ponytailwhile she let hers ravelike madnessaround her head.I don't sing in my sleepor eat the petals off flowersor run into the rain instead of out of it.I'm the unplugged-in one,the side-kick sister,tucked into a corner of her shadow.Boys followed her everywhere;they filled the booths at the restaurant where she waitressed,herded around her at the river.One day, I saw a boy come up behind herand pull a strand of her long hairI understood this-I felt the same way.In photographs of us together,she is always looking at the camera,and I am always looking at her.
My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn't go away; it becomes a part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That's just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don't get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.
grief is a housewhere the chairshave forgotten how to hold usthe mirrors how to reflect usthe walls how to contain usgrief is a house that disappearseach time someone knocks at the dooror rings the bella house that blows into the airat the slightest gustthat buries itself deep in the groundwhile everyone is sleepinggrief is a house where no on can protect youwhere the younger sisterwill grow older than the older onewhere the doorsno longer let you inor out
I'd been making desicions for days.I picked out the dress Bailey would wear forever-a black slinky one- innapropriate- that she loved.I chose a sweater to go over it, earrings, bracelet, necklace, her most beloved strappy sandals.I collected her makeup to give to the funeral director with a recent photo-I thought it would be me that would dress her;I didn't think a strange man should see her nakedtouch her bodyshave her legsapply her lipstickbut that's what happened all the same.I helped Gram pick out the casket,the plot at the cemetery.I changed a few linesin the obituary that Big composed.I wrote on a piece of paper what I thoughtshould go on the headstone.I did all this without uttering a word.Not one word, for days,until I saw Bsiley before the funeraland lost my mind.I hadn't realized that when people say so-and-sosnappedthat's what actually happens-I started shaking her-I thought I could wake her upand get her the hell out of that box.When she didn't wake,I screamed: Talk to me.Big swooped me up in his arms, carried me out of the room, the church,into the slamming rain,and down to the creekwhere we sobbed togetherunder the black coat he held over our headsto protect us from the weather.
There were once two sisterswho were not afriad of the darkbecause the dark was full of the other's voiceacross the room,because even when the night was thickand starlessthey walked home together from the riverseeing who could last the longestwithout turning on her flashlight,not afraidbecause sometimes in the pitch of nightthey'd lie on their backsin the middle of the pathand look up until the stars came backand when they did,they'd reach their arms up to touch themand did.