The purplish haze of the Twilight sky illuminates the trail as I walk. My ratty, faded green converse carrying me forward, my body sunken within my faded red hoody. Today was supposed to be about dreaming a better future and yet, I couldn’t help but feel the shadow of the past still winding around me like vines pulling me back. Was I going forward or was I going back? It’s hard to say when you’re walking on a path shrouded by trees. It’s hard to see what lies beyond them or what lay behind them. I am Nowhere.
Twilight is supposed to be a magical time where one can go from one realm to another which I obstinately believed until I realized that this place was all that could exist. My imagination had somehow fled from where it once thrived and hummed with possibilities to that place where only broken pieces of oneself lie. As the colorful sky gives way to the sun in its brightness, I still feel stranded between Night and Day. Does Day seek solace in the darkness of Night or does Night take refuge in the shadows of Day?
I can’t help but wonder where I fit in, am I part of Day or Night? Or could I simply be mixed into Twilight where my feet go forward yet part of me still lives on the path behind? Maybe I am Twilight on the verge of discovering who I am or who I was, never quite blending into what Day or Night expects, but simply living somewhere in between. It’s an oddly comfortable, yet disenchanted place to exist. It is where I live.
Life hasn’t always been this way for me. I used to have hopes and dreams that led me into Day and sustained me during Night. Then one moment it all changes, all the brightly colored possibilities dancing in front of me dimmed and I felt darkness swallow me. I remember that day…the day I found out that one of my best friend’s killed herself. I awakened that morning as I had all the other mornings accepting the promise that Day brings…but in came Darkness, its long vicious claws sinking into me, gripping me, bleeding me inside.
I went to her funeral with all our friends and her family gathered round. Her family and Pastor talked about how great she’d been when she was a young child growing up. No one wanted to talk about her as she had been. I’d saved her a seat like I’d always done since she was always late… The gleaming white box with the wreath of flowers on top of it stood silently in front of us all. I sat with Darkness clenching my throat wanting to yell at everyone that she was a loyal friend, a talented artist… She’d just told me, a week ago, how she was looking forward to the New Year and said it was going to be great. I’d thought she was talking about a new major and then that she’d be traveling in the Summer with her boyfriend to some far off place…not in a white shiny box with a wreath of flowers laying on top of it.
Looking at the funeral flyer detailing her life with her picture smiling out from it was all it took for me to finally dare let the Darkness that choked me, finally cry out loud. My friend put their arms around me but all I could see was the empty seat on the other side of me. Grief shook my body as my mind comprehended that she would really not be joining me today, part of me had already figured that out, with the white box standing disconsolately in front of me, but the other part had held on to a sliver of hope that dared be there that it was all some sort of mistake.
At the grave site, I stood in the back as her family said their good-byes. Her little sister tossed a small stuffed toy in the air…her older sister silently stood and cried. Then she blew a kiss at…the white box where the body of my friend lay shrouded by Darkness. I fell apart seeing her blow that kiss as she turned and walked away. How could she be gone? She was supposed to be…here. Her mom and dad walked by and asked me if I knew why she did it. Then I remembered my friend had told me that she’d killed herself. All I could do was cry and shake my head no. One of our teachers that had come to say good bye to her, put his arm around my shoulder and steered me away from them. “It’s not her fault” he said, “She didn’t know.” But her mom’s words hit me like a sledgehammer—“Why not? Why doesn’t she know? She was her best friend!”
Somehow, I got in my friend’s car and she drove me home. I stumbled inside and collapsed on my bed. I curled up tucking my head on my knees and I cried until I could cry no more. It was I who should have died. I was the one that had no family, no one to leave behind…She had family, she had everything. I was expendable. If I would have died, no one but a few friends would’ve cried for me and then they would have gone on with their lives with just a moment of sadness instead of a lifetime of grief like she had abandoned her family to…and me. She was family to me. She was my best friend.
It should have been me that died that December Day. But I didn’t. I lived and Life somehow just kept plunging forward yet somehow my feet still wandered the same path as Day faded into Night and Darkness kept me bound within Grief’s relentless gaze. I used to make plans each New Year and try my best to carry one through. I was young then, full of hopes and dreams…but then Darkness came and stole my breath, with Grief pounding constantly with every heartbeat.
I felt an unforgiving, treacherous anger at times that she had chosen to die and not let me die instead. I was angry that she threw away everyone in her life, her family, her friends…me. Furious at myself that I didn’t know she was planning to do such an awful deed…She’d never in all the time I’d known her, ever been optimistic about Christmas or the New year to come…it was a clue as to what she was planning…when she’d told me that she was going to do something awesome in the New Year, that she was going to have the best Summer ever…I’d missed the obvious most important thing…if I’d had of realized then what she was going to do maybe today she’d be alive, laughing, smiling…instead of dead in a box.
She’d bought a gun and shot herself in the parking lot of a large retail store just before Christmas. I was told that she didn’t die alone that she had died on the way to the hospital in the ambulance. She died with strangers trying to keep her alive…when everyone she left behind…should have been the ones there keeping the gun out of her hands. I should’ve known. I should’ve been there. These are things that probably every survivor of a loved one that committed suicide thinks. I wonder though, do any of them ever feel like it should’ve been them dying?
I felt this way for a long time which is maybe why I never knew where the path in front of me could go…what would happen if I looked beyond the despair of Darkness, if I dared step out of Grief’s onerous burden? She died and I cannot change that. But I lived and I can choose what to do with the life that I have within me. A breath that waits for me to take it.
Inhaling the air into my lungs, I forgive her for dying, for abandoning all behind…for her not giving me the chance to at least say good-bye. I feel Grief begin to recede allowing my heart to sigh in relief. As Day shone brighter, I realized that I could face it, with its many colors, accepting that the path that Night had brought where Darkness had overwhelmed, did not have to keep my feet from going forward. The trail promised of things to come, of possibilities…that it was leading me to Somewhere.
This year I’m going to forgive and embrace the promise of the new day. To live and not just survive. I am now Somewhere– a place where dreams can dance, where hopes can take wing and soar into…well I guess that is the question with not knowing exactly where Somewhere will lead but when the Night does come it keeps Darkness from swallowing me with it’s lovely moon shining bright up the sky.