My sister's son died. People ask when and my answer is to ask them back if it matters. 200 years ago or 200 seconds ago, it doesn't take away that he's not here with her.
At night, I think of ways I can help my sister be without him. My Idea #1 is to close my eyes and bring him back to her. I plan on thinking on this right before bed, and I will ask him to visit her in her dreams.
I want to pull him back from where he is gone to and then by the elbow I will push him up and front to see her, “See! Here he is! It's him!” and then step away to leave them together.
At night, I think of what I can do for my sister, and my next idea, Idea #2, is that she needs mothering. But we don't have our mother here so I think of Idea #3: My sister finds pennies and knows it's our mother leaving her messages that no one is really gone. Idea #3: sneak to my sister's house and reach into my pocket that I've filled with pennies and leave them inside her shoes, under her plates, waiting behind her sofa for her to find when she cleans.
I have boxes of pictures somewhere, from long ago. They might be in the basement or in my closet. I remember that I have these, in shoe boxes, and Idea #4 comes to me: I will concentrate, find and bring those pictures I must have of my nephew. I know I have his smile in a 3x5 space, and I need the photos in my hands, and I will take these pictures and hide them under the pennies I hid in my sister's house.
Idea #5 came when I scrolled through facebook and see my sister writing of doing life now, one day, one hour, one breath at a time. Idea #5 is to not miss any of her words and do her life with her: my hour with hers, my day with hers, my breath with hers. If I combine mine, it becomes my Idea #5: to divide the work it takes her to live life with her son away.
Since my sister's son died, she keeps his things in a small closet in the room across from hers. The door to the closet is closed.
Idea #6: I will go to my sister's house, open the closet door for a second, just one, to whisper, “Tommy, it's your auntie. I know you know this, your mother--anyway, I have some ideas, but I need three more. My idea #7, Tommy: if you would come visit me in my dreams and leave me three more ideas, then I will have ten. I can help her with ten."
That night, after talking to him, I will go to bed with a notebook and pencil waiting next to me on the table. I need to be ready so that when I wake up I don't forget what he tells his ideas are for #8, 9, and 10.
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