Dead. The word is an absolute, especially when it was spoken of someone she loves.
Dead. How it felt to lose them, as if her insides crumbled, as if her blood kept pumping but her heart stopped. In shock. Cold. Dead.
Alive. The cruelest joke in the early days, the days when putting one step in front of another felt like walking against a tidal wave. She moved, barely cognizant of herself, her surroundings, breathing, but in a fog so thick it threatened to steal the breath from her lungs. But it didn’t. She was still alive. Even though they were gone.
Alive. Where she wished they were, in the space next to her, tangibly there to reach out and touch, if only for just a moment. There to breathe in, and oh how she wanted to breathe them in, to remember their smell, the one that has long since faded from the things they’ve left. The remnants. All she had were remnants.
Alive. The months moved on, and the fog began to break, and she became conscious of color around her. In the tulips blooming near the sidewalk, opening in the gaze of the sun, and something within her softened as she noticed that the world was not all darkness. Maybe there still could be light.
Alive. Like on the day she laughed, not casually, but was beside herself, in tears. A laugh that almost surprised her with its familiarity, as if she caught a glimpse of an old friend in that moment, someone she used to know. Someone who had been untouched by suffering. Someone who was carefree. That person was gone. But maybe not completely. Maybe she was still in there.
Alive. She cupped her hands and held the pieces. She spent a year gathering them into her hands, kneeling on the ground, squinting as she carefully picked up each one, fearful and afraid that they might fall again. And somehow, these pieces she held, like shattered glass, the broken parts of her heart, surprised her as the light caught them, and they glimmered back, the color dancing in the sun. Maybe there was still beauty to be seen, even when it all looked like brokenness.
Alive. The winds changed. The cool air brought a new season. Over a year had passed, and she breathed a gust of it into her lungs. Time had changed things, but time always seems to come full circle. The seasons that saw her demise now watched, as the leaves crumpled, crackling under her feet, the trees shed the weight, embracing a temporary death, they watched her. Her heart in bloom.
Alive. Broken and bruised, scars lining every visible part, her smile full, her eyes old. But her heart. Oh, her heart. Richer with compassion. Fuller from being broken. Inspired by loving someone more than this life. Truer from the memory of kissing them goodbye. She was mending. There would still be pain, to be sure. There would still be an ache for their presence, but in her heart, there was also more. There was joy. An intermingling, a dance of sorrow and gladness. She was rising from the ashes. She was coming alive, more alive than ever before.