She drove for eight hours.
Eight exhausting and stifling hours of traffic lights and snow-covered side streets. She stopped for nothing; she talked to no one. There was no point. There were no words to share, no room for speaking in this car filled with an air so thick it was smothering.
When someone we love is no longer in our lives, we are given a small window of time to recapture the vivid details of that person.
We still have the ability to visualize every facet of their face—the slight lines imprinted from years of laughter, the exact hue of her eyes, the contorted features of emotion. Bloodshot eyes from the tears she shed, the slight smirk that sat upon her lips when keeping a secret, the faraway stare when lost in her own mind.
For but a short moment, the smell of her is still fresh. The T-shirt she gave you to wear to bed last month still smells of her unique scent, the potent aura of the perfume she wore every day still impinged amongst the interwoven fibers of frayed cotton.
You still replay your last birthday with vivid imagery, distinctly recalling the beautiful emerald ring she bought you for your special day. The one that still sits on your bedroom dresser reflecting off the streaming rays of sun as if it were delivered in the mail just yesterday.
Right now you can close your eyes and remember the minute details of her bedroom, the flowers in the garden and the glimmer from the silver watch she never took off her wrist. But in the coming weeks you will begin to rely on the old photos to recapture the fading color of images once so sharp.
Tonight you still hear the clarity of her laugh—her contagious, inspiring laugh that could dry even the thickest of tears; a sound so entrancing you couldn’t help but to join in.
Right now you are blessed, because etched in stone within your mind are still the exact words she used to tell you the stories of her childhood, the pain and loneliness; the way she raised herself and the expectations placed upon her at an early age.
As if it were permanently recorded, you can repeat word for word each layered conversation that ever took place, from where it occurred to the exact tone in that moment, down to the quaint mannerisms and hand gestures she made as she traveled back in time.
She finally pulled into the driveway, desolate and empty, lit only by the setting sun. But she knew just where to find her—she didn’t need a guide to reunite them.
I sit here and I wonder how long I have until all of this starts fading?
How long before her features blend together, her scent starts to dissolve, the glimmer in her eye retreats, the sound of her laugh becomes harder to hear and the vivid details of the moments shared all become one dull and transparent mixture of uncertainties?
If it were anything else she might have said it was beautiful. The sun setting in just the right place, reflecting off the stone like magnified diamonds. The flowers adding to it as she lowered her body to place them respectively; hydrangeas, her favorite.
How much time do we have until she isn’t even a memory anymore?
How long after will I visit her in my dreams?
And how many minutes before our angels fly away from us, no longer a memory or a dream, but a blessing so far out of our reach?
She sat beside her and thought of what it would be like to hold her hand one more time. She smiled slightly—not the type that’s full of joy and happiness—the in-between kind of smile whose curves are filled with grief and sorrow. She came here every year to gain one more memory.
One more memory to replace the ones she has lost as father time takes them one by one.
Author: Rebecca Conroy
Image: Ryan Moreno/Unsplash
Editor: Nicole Cameron