Keeping What’s Left Alive

It has been said by many that they keep things from people they have loved once they lost them. I am no exception. I have an old, floral comforter, which, might I add, is not my style, that is stuffed in the bottom of my closet at home. It was given to me by my great-grandmother who has been dead for around 9 years now. I have sets of jewelry lying around that were given to me by my grandma and multiple books that I will never get rid of. I have text messages from my best friend that date back to late April. The storage on my phone will forever remain full because of them. To me, they are pieces of the people that I have loved and lost that are being kept alive. Pieces that I will forever carry with me for as long as I live.

Though those aren’t the only things that I have. I have one more thing that I didn’t mention above and that is a bookshelf. However, I didn’t mention that above because no one gave it to me. It may be just a simple bookshelf to someone who doesn’t know the story, but I may forever keep it because of what I put into it. You see, the day after my best friend died I got up and began to paint the bookshelf. My best friend was with me just before she got into the car accident a few minutes from my house. I told her that I was going to paint it the day after and she was excited about it. The excitement probably wasn’t because I was painting the bookshelf, but, more or less, the fact that we were getting ready for college. Either way, I’m not one to break a promise. I’m far from it. If I say something, I will do it and I will not complain. It was extremely hot that day and the sun beat down with no mercy, but I kept painting. All the while, questioning so many things at once. What happened? Then what actually happened? Because there will be two answers. How did I not know before? Why did I let her leave? Why wasn’t I there for her? Why did I wake up that morning and she a figure of the past? With each question, I slung more paint onto the bookshelf, not caring how much, then spreading it out.

My sister came out and offered me water and I didn’t touch it. She also came to help then eventually went back in. My mom came out telling me to take a break and ushered me inside, but then she left and I went right back outside. I had to finish because that’s what I was supposed to do. I was supposed to get up the next day and I was supposed to move on even though I didn’t want to. So with each beat of the brush, I grew infuriated. Infuriated at the driver who didn’t slow down. Infuriated with the people around me telling me everything would be okay. Infuriated at the world for taking her and leaving me. I heard the music blasting next to me. Music that spoke words of anger, sadness, guilt, regret, and sometimes even death. Words that I barely understood before coming through to me in a different light, listening to every single word and understanding clearly what each meant and why. My dad came and went. Me, not bothering to show my face to him. I just kept painting. My vision already impaired by a cluster of tears. I didn’t want anyone to see me like that. Then my mom came up to me, grabbed an extra brush and began painting with me. I hid my face from her while knowing that she already knew. She began covering the spots that I missed while I continued to make random, angry strides at the shelf I was working on.

Now I didn’t tell you this just for the purposes of telling you it. I told you this because now every time I look at that bookshelf I am reminded of that day. You are probably wondering why I even want to remember that day. Well, because that was probably my darkest day and it reminds me of the meaning of the word perseverance. Every time I look at that bookshelf I am reminded of the day that I got up of out bed and she didn’t. I am reminded of the day that I would have given anything to be with her. But it also reminds me of the day that I realized no matter how much I want to be with her, I can’t be. So when I look at the chips and unevenly spread paint on the bookshelf I don’t turn away in disgust, I look at it and see a multitude of tears and sweat. Then I look further and see perseverance and the day that I had to go on even if I didn’t want and even if she couldn’t. And sometimes I feel a certain hope that I will see her again. Even if it’s years from now. There will be a day where I get to tell her everything and she will listen even though she probably already knows. So with that, to me, the bookshelf symbolizes something much more. I’m keeping what’s left alive, but I’m also keeping my ability to persevere alive because I’ve already lost a lot.