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Wednesday, November 01, 2006 

Alica, I Forget the Day You Died

I forget the day, the date, and if I get blurry enough, even the month fades into obscurity. Every November I begin the process of shutting down, the emails get hard, the telephone, the face to face. I am one of those, that under pressure, ceases to function.

This year it started early. September. I see them in the grocery store, women with your color of hair, porcelain skin. I see women who bear the most tracest of similarities with you, and paint them into someone they are not. I pretend that I've run into you while running errands. You're buying groceries, pumping gas, mailing packages for your mother. We hug, we embrace, and you are not dead, not buried, you are here. In September I pulled over to the side of the road, held my face in my hands and thought, 'Too soon. Too soon.' But the month did not worry me so much as the realization that maybe I don't miss you.

Maybe I just like missing you.

Maybe I like the beauty and futility that makes up the elements of sadness. Maybe I am nothing more than a drama queen.

So I sat up straighter in that car, wiped my face, squared my shoulders, and drove off. Determined not to make a mockery of the person you were, the life you led. This is what I remember of you, independent of your death.

You took pictures with a scared look on your face, like a deer caught in head lights. Your hair always had a wild look about it, as if you had been caught turning your head quickly. Your smile seemed nervous, your eyes scared, but you were a pretty child. Even beautiful. There are photos that show that, and yet somehow I own none of them, and so I strive to keep that memory, imprint it in my brain.

You had a baby voice, and I hate baby voices. Hate the women that posess them. The funny thing is that they are hardly ever delicate women. You were delicate, sometimes. Always either super skinny or sitting comfortably on the first step of fatness. I was super jealous when you were skinny, with your flawless skin, beautiful auburn hair, big eyes. I would watch men flock to you and pray that you would get fat again. When you were heavy you wore too much eyeliner and picked at your skin. Insecurities seeping to the outside. Baby voice aside, your laugh stays with me. It was a startled laugh, as if not even you had expected it.

But where, oh where, did you get that voice I detested so much?? I can still hear you saying, "fudge packer" in it, followed up by that signature laugh. You didn't have that voice when you were small.

Small small small. You were the youngest of the cousins I played with growing up. Younger than me by four years I can still recall the last time Phillip and I bathed with you. You tried to touch his penis and then pooped in the tub. We were screaming so loud the grownups thought someone had drowned. And that was the end of us bathing with you.

I lost you when I went to High School. You appear on the fringes of my memory, stealing my too big clothes and favorite nail polish. You took my barbies out of storage, broke them, and then denied it. You told me boy crazy stories. I shrugged you off and the sleep overs stopped.

I lost you in College.

You turned 18 and reappeared. Did I go to your birthday party? Your graduation? God. I can't remember. I've always been bad with shit like that. I remember Nicolas Cage was playing in a movie in your livingroom. There was soda, and your mother stood in front of a stainless steel refridgerator, showing off her oversized home and all of it's automated lights. We smiled, pretended you liked your step-father and vica versa.

I found you. For a week I stayed with you while your grandparents were gone. We went to the movies, you told me about boys, I hugged you in a parking lot, and at the end, the very end, you pissed me off. You were so damn competitive with me and it ate at me. The barbs. The asides.

Alica, you had a capacity for forgiveness and acceptance that I have never possessed. You laughed about things that I have raged against. You committed petty crimes with a smile, things that I have always been too rigid and unforgiving to stoop to. More than your beauty, I was jealous of that. Your ability to make mistakes, acknowledge them, regret them, and move on, while I kept a list of all your transgressions.

In so many ways, for so many years, I lost who you were, and now I don't know what I miss. Is it that baby girl with the curling brown ringlets? The girl who walked on top of our grandmother's fence with me, confiding she had stolen a kiss from a fellow kindergartener? The 18 year old I danced with at a club to celebrate officially being legal?

I know I lost you, I just always thought I'd find you once more. Your brother graduated High School this year and when I drove up, parked, it suddenly occurred to me that I was looking for you still. Maybe we all are.