“Drowning”

I replay old memories of you in my head. Over and over, like a projector I cannot turn off. The clips are always interrupted by commercials for pain-relievers. Not the ones everyone else sees. You know, that woman who can’t take her dog for a walk because she’s crippled with migraine pain. Never fear – Advil is here!

The pain relief I see are the 3 am phone calls to pick you up from the side of the road, and don’t worry, “I won’t tell dad.” The pale grey color of your skin that is somehow lightened by the depths of black in your eyes. The sound of endless sirens that still echo through the halls of our home – if you can even call it that.

One of my favorite memories as a little girl was when dad would dance around the kitchen with me. My tippy toes clinging to the tops of his bare feet. Each movement like a puppet on strings.

Now, the 1-2-3 of a traditional Waltz is replaced by the metronome of a ventilator. 1-2-breathe.

1-2-breathe…

I listened to you scream my name when the 8th Narcan finally brought you back. Squeezed in between those strange men surrounding you on the floor, I felt like a tube of biscuits waiting to pop. It was 6 am, barely light outside, and I was holding your hand tight enough that nothing was going to take you from me, I whispered to you “It’s okay – I’m here.”

I wasn’t there though. I was everywhere else I wanted to be. I was in AJ’s back yard playing baseball with you and your friends, even though you hated that I followed you around but mom made you take me. I was in the street begging you to let me play hockey with you and the guys. I was in the living room stealing an extra couple of twenties when you went to the bathroom in the middle of Monopoly. I was in your bedroom when there was a bad thunderstorm and you let me watch Bugs Bunny with you on the bottom bunk until I fell asleep. I promised you I wouldn’t tell anyone because it’s not cool to take care of your little sister.

Choking down those tears that morning was the hardest thing I have ever done. You never took your eyes off of me the whole time you fought them. I tried to be strong, like you.

“WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?

WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?

LISSA, HELP ME!”

I can still hear the 17 year-old boy shaking in your voice. The way you looked contorted – stuck under your bed. The guttural sounds you made fighting for each breathe as I struggled to pull you out. When I laid you on your back to check your airway, just like the woman on the phone told me, your skin was painfully cold – like you had been dead for years. These memories are the life senses handed down for a crime I didn’t commit.

I stayed with you in the hospital, for 3 days. Every night you fell asleep, I prayed that my brother would be the one to wake up the next morning. It has been 6 years –

I stopped waiting.

Chris Young sang, “I gotta say, missing you comes in waves, and tonight I’m drowning.” The song makes me think of you every time I hear it. The thing is, missing you doesn’t come in waves. I’m stuck in a torrential downpour of a whirlpool that can’t let go of who you were or who you are. There is no lifeline for the damage you caused. No relief for the perpetual heartaches. I try to cling to the memories of who you used to be, but who you have become is consuming all of the light you once had.

“it’s killing me we can’t be face to face
I miss my best friend

So, tonight I’m gonna pull out pictures, ones with you in ’em
Laugh and cry a little while reminiscing
By myself
I can’t help
That all I think about is
How you were taken way too soon
It ain’t the same here without you
I gotta say, missing you comes in waves
And tonight I’m drowning

Yeah, tonight I’m drowning”

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