Ten Minutes Between Death and Burial

This wasn’t meant to be a shrine.

I built a reflective pool where I could graze my fingers across a still surface and watch the ripples until they fade back into the unspoken stillness of a million words. This was to be exploratory. Step into the darkness of my ever swirling thoughts. Who am I? Follow as I figure it all out.

Now I come here every year to mourn.

And remember.

Five years ago today, I wanted to die.

I sat outside my family’s home and cried with the most profound despair I had ever felt.

And it wasn’t only because upstairs, in the room I had painted in a desperate attempt to connect to my little sisters when I was a broken teenager with no place to call home, my baby sister lay dead.

I wanted to die because there is only so much loss a heart can take.

I wanted to die because two years before – to the day – I had written my grief in anguish over the realization that I had become, and probably always had been, an orphan with two living parents.

I wanted to die because even as my sister’s heart stopped beating, the religion that dictated my every move and made me feel worthless seeped into the most intimate moment of life – death. It fell heavily on the heads of humans in crisis and told us how to feel, what to do, what not to do…and I felt it choking me into submission.

Don’t touch. Don’t linger. Don’t think unholy thoughts.

I wanted to die because in this moment of turmoil and terror, this emptying of self moment where I was nothing, I was approached and reproached for daring to have a necessary boundary.

I wanted to die because I was reminded why I have no safe foundation, no place where memory is free to roam without triggers that send me spiraling.

I wanted to die because, in a house full of people bonding over loss and heartache, I was utterly alone.

It took me ten minutes to pick up the phone and find my lifeline.

Ten terrifying minutes I have held to my heart as I slathered myself with layer upon layer of a commitment to live the life I deserve as I am. Ten minutes propelling me into a lifetime of unrelenting, unapologetic, conscious living.

I come to this shrine and let the memories wash over me. They are always different. Always lighting the way towards a piece of the pain.

Five years ago today, I joined my sister in the place between death and burial for ten minutes.

I pluck the threads out from the depths of my shrine, and I unravel them for all to see.

Here lies her death.

Here lies mine.

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